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Make: Talk 003 - Larry Cotton, Multi-Maker


Here's the third episode of MAKE's podcast, Make: Talk! In each episode, I'll interview one of the makers featured in the magazine.

Our maker this week is Larry Cotton, a long time contributor to Make. Larry's a retired engineer and part-time math teacher who lives in New Bern, N.C., and likes to listen to, write, and play anything musical. I talked to him about his LED Paper Cutter, his Rok-Bak Chair, His Spin the Birdie rotating bird feeder, his Camp Stove Coffee Roaster, and his project in the current issue of MAKE, a sturdy, multi-position iPad stand called the iStand.

And at the beginning of the episode, Make: Online editor-in-chief Gareth Branwyn shares news of some cool things happening on the site.


Afghan goat giveaway “lacked accountability”

Government investigators suspected that goats may have been used to bribe locals in Afghanistan, but found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the goat-giving program. [Muckrock]

Order of the Stick D&D webcomic breaking Kickstarter records

Courtney sez, "The D&D themed webcomic Order of the Stick has been running a Kickstarter campaign to get some of its out-of-print books back onto shelves. It's now broken $350,000 and is one of the top 10 funded projects of all time on Kickstarter and the most funded comics project of all time."

I've been self-publishing my comedy-fantasy-adventure webcomic The Order of the Stick in paper format since 2005, but one of the hardest parts about doing it all on my own is keeping the older books available. This project is designed to get at least one of those books back into print. The Order of the Stick: War and XPs was the third compilation of the color webcomic, covering a bunch of cool battle scenes like this and this and even this.

Comic "Order of the Stick" Kickstarter campaign breaks $350,000 (Thanks, Courtney!)

The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money

I reviewed The Behavior Gap for

201202011315Would you take financial advice from a cocktail napkin sketch? Well, it depends on who is sketching. If it’s your brother-in-law, who likes to boast about how he “almost” made a killing investing in Google stock, then the advice is probably not worth the paper it’s on. But if it happens to be sketched by Carl Richards, a financial planner and blogger on the New York Times‘ Bucks blog, then it’s a good idea to save the napkin and wipe your barbecue wing sauce covered fingers on your pants instead.

Richards’ sketches (you can find them all here) offer practical financial advice in the form of humorous (at times darkly humorous) graphs that get to the essence of peoples’ oftentimes troubled relationship with money and credit. For instance, Richards has a graph that charts the increase in the price of gold in relationship to the chance you will get hurt. That line climbs at a steady 45-degree angle.

Richards’ new book, The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money combines napkin sketch graphs with financial advice that focuses on reducing fear, making realistic choices, and learning to accept the fact that life rarely goes as planned.

Read the rest of the review

Princess Bride V-Day screening & feast at Alamo Drafthouse

Austin's astoundingly great Alamo Drafthouse cinema is hosting a Valentine's Night "Princess Bride Quote-Along & Feast" with Rodents of Unusual Size on the menu, and special Inconceivable wine.

We love this movie every bit as deeply as Westley loves his Buttercup, and so when we discussed launching our very own Alamo Signature Wine collection, we immediately knew that we had to start by featuring none other than THE PRINCESS BRIDE. We partnered with the good people at Helms Workshop to produce artwork for two varietals, and this February we are pleased to introduce the world to The Bottle of Wits, featuring an Inconceivable Cab and the As You Wish White!


Bill O'Reilly flunks middle-school math while defending Fox's sleazy hatchet job on the Netherlands

[Video Link] After Fox aired a video calling the Dutch "naive," and the country "out of control," "a cesspool of corruption and crime," "a mess," and "anarchy," a man from the Netherlands named Max Wezendonk made a video response, backing up his counterargument with facts about the Netherlands' low rates of drug use and murder compared to the USA.

Sociological Images says:

By far, the best part occurs at 2:40. Gretchen Carlson mentions that 40% of Americans in the U.S. report having ingested marijuana, compared to 22% of the Dutch. O'Reilly responds with shocking statistical illiteracy (or a willingness to assume the illiteracy of his viewers). Confusing percentages with whole numbers, he says: "The way they do the statistics in the Netherlands is different, plus its a much smaller country, it's a much smaller base to do the stats on."

O'Reilly could be telling the truth, at least about his first claim: "The way they do the statistics in the Netherlands is different." That's correct, if he means "different from the way Fox does statistics."

Fox News vs. the Netherlands

Related: Joan Rivers takes a bong hit.

US trade rep and hotel caught lying about confidentiality of secret copyright treaty meeting in Hollywood

If you follow Boing Boing, you're probably passingly familiar with ACTA, the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a treaty negotiated in secret, comprising a kind of wishlist from the entertainment industry, pared down rather a lot after a series of leaks. The sequel to ACTA is TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, yet another secret copyright treaty with many of the same participants.

A coalition of civil society groups got wind of an upcoming TPP meeting in a Hollywood hotel and decided to rent out a function space in the same building so they could hold a public information meeting on TPP during the session. According to Techdirt, the US Trade Representative had the hotel cancel the civil society groups' reservation. The hotel claimed that the reservation was being canceled due to "a confidential group in house" and that "we will not be allowing any other groups in the meeting space that day."

Except that this turns out to have been a lie. When the civil society group called up and asked to rent a function room for an unrelated event, the hotel was happy to rent to them.

And, needless to say, the MPAA was able to get access to the TPP negotiators, who were escorted on a "multi-hour tour of 20th Century Fox Studios last night."

Hollywood Gets To Party With TPP Negotiators; Public Interest Groups Get Thrown Out Of Hotel

iPhone case looks like old camera

With a workable shutter button and straps to hang it around your neck, I prefer this camera attachment to the Big Red Button I mentioned yesterday. And it's $65, which is less than the Big Red Button.

Gizmon ICA iPhone case

Do big cats purr?

U xpect adorabulness. U gets it. But kittehs also gives u edukashun n' sientific nuance.

That's all the LOLcat speak I can muster in one go. Seriously, watch this video from Big Cat Rescue. It's fascinating. And, you should know, at the end, they link you to a slightly less educational feature about ocelots and lynx chasing laser pointers. Just sayin'.

Video Link

Via Icanhascheezburger

Thanks, Andrew Balfour!

Giant trans-dimensional humanoids take over hotel swimming pool

"We're having a whale of a time at the Mildendo Grand Hyatt." (Via Photoshop Disasters)

"My Favorite Museum Exhibit": Romantic anatomy models

"My Favorite Museum Exhibit" is a series of posts aimed at giving BoingBoing readers a chance to show off their favorite exhibits and specimens, preferably from museums that might go overlooked in the tourism pantheon. I'll be featuring posts in this series all week. Want to see them all? Check out the archive post. I'll update the full list there every morning.

This is Romantic in the classical sense, although they're also kind of romantic in the aesthetic sense, as well. These anatomy models, made from wax, were used to teach 18th-century Italian med students all about the human body. There are full-body models, and detailed models of specific parts. Several of full-body models wear wigs, and most are set in states of cool repose, looking as though they're waiting for a lover to climb up a ladder to their window. It's kind of all the awesomeness of the plastinated bodies exhibits that are popular today, without having to worry about whether the body you're looking at once belonged to a Chinese political prisoner.

You can find the models in La Specola, the Museum of Zoology and Natural History in Florence. Darren Milligan took this photo and has a whole gallery of other great shots on Flickr that you should really check out. Besides these lady models, there's also a flayed man, and a disembodied face peeled back to the eyeball.

EDIT: Pesco points out that guest-blogger Mark Dery did a whole a feature on these models for us back in 2009. Go check it out! There's lots more photos and cool history.

"My Favorite Museum Exhibit": John Lennon's Rolls Royce

"My Favorite Museum Exhibit" is a series of posts aimed at giving BoingBoing readers a chance to show off their favorite exhibits and specimens, preferably from museums that might go overlooked in the tourism pantheon. I'll be featuring posts in this series all week. Want to see them all? Check out the archive post. I'll update the full list there every morning.

This car sits in the lobby of the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, British Columbia. It once belonged to John Lennon, hence the paint job. But that's not the only customization. Inside, apparently, there is a fold-out bed, a portable refrigerator, and a record player. There also used to be a TV. Bear in mind, all these changes were made in the mid-to-late 1960s, when the whole refrigerator-and-TV-in-a-car thing were much more impressive feats of technology.

Sean Rodman works at the Royal BC Museum and sent in this photo, along with a request for assistance. On the roof of the car is a symbol that is, ostensibly, the sign for Libra. Except that it doesn't really resemble the sign for Libra. The Royal BC Museum is confused. Maybe you guys know what this is:

HOWTO make a fur-lined barbarian forearm bracer with a digital D&D dice-roller built in

The wizards at Sparkfun, an open source hardware company, show us how to make one of these spiffy furry barbarian leather arm-bracers with a charmingly anachronistic D&D dice-roller built into, built around a Lilypad soft Arduino controller.

I’ve got nothing but respect for the DIY/open source community who take conductive thread, LEDs, and Arduino boxes and make them into marvelous little working crafts. I find it all a bit above my metaphorical pay grade. However, if there was anything that was going to convince me to learn how to rig a circuit, it would be the project that Dia forwarded to us yesterday. ,p> It’s a fur-lined leather gauntlet that can roll 100, 20, 12, 10, 8, 6, and 4-sided dice with the flip of a switch and the shake of a forearm. It combines my love of tabletop with my desire to live in the future where we all poke our wrists to get things done.

Theoretically, there's a complete tutorial for this beauty, but it's 404 at the moment. The link below goes to The Mary Sue's writeup.

New Life Goal: Make a Leather Bracer that Rolls Dice

"My Favorite Museum Exhibit": A great big chunk of ancient Assyria

"My Favorite Museum Exhibit" is a series of posts aimed at giving BoingBoing readers a chance to show off their favorite exhibits and specimens, preferably from museums that might go overlooked in the tourism pantheon. I'll be featuring posts in this series all week. Want to see them all? Check out the archive post. I'll update the full list there every morning.

Allan Berry sent in this photo from the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute Museum. That giant winged-bull-man-thing is a lammasu—ancient Mesopotamia's answer to the sphynx and possibly one of the greatest-looking monsters ever designed.

This one is part of a set that once flanked the doorway to the throne room of Sargon II, whose name really just goes perfectly with the aesthetic of the lamassu. Berry thought this might be a part of ancient Babylon, but from the spot of research I did this morning, Sargon II (and the lamassu) actually hailed from a place called Dur-Sharrukin, or, fittingly, "The Fortress of Sargon." Today, it's a village in northern Iraq, near Mosul.

Also: If you're looking for random ways to procrastinate today, I suggest reading the Wikipedia entry on the University of Chicago Persian Antiquities Crisis. Apparently, the Oriental Institute Museum has a lot of Persian tablets in its collection that are technically owned by the country of Iran. A few years ago, the U.S. Justice Department went after those artifacts, hoping to sell them off to raise money to pay to victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism. It's a weird little bit of legal/political history.

Beautiful 1912 newspaper comic panel by Johnny Gruelle

Thomas Haller Buchanan posted this scan from a 1912 comic strip panel by Raggedy Ann and Andy artist Johnny Gruelle. He says, "Time to isolate another panel from the comics to celebrate its stand-alone beauty. This panel from the newspaper comics of 1912 looks more like an elegant kid's book illustration."

Ranger tazes off-leash dog walker

Gary Hesterberg was in a national park in San Francisco with his two lap dogs. A park ranger saw him with his dogs and told him that the dogs must be leashed. She asked for his name and told him to not to leave. When he started walking away, she shot him in the back with her "electric-shock weapon."

Rancho Corral de Tierra has long been an off-leash walking spot for local dog owners. In December, the area became part of the national park system, which requires that all dogs be on a leash, Levitt said.

The ranger was trying to educate residents of the rule, Park Service spokesman Howard Levitt said.

Ranger tazes off-leash dog walker

Toy-sized quadrotors flying in formation

Researchers from GRASP Lab at the University of Pennsylvania developed software to allow toy-sized nano quadrotors to fly in tight, precise and eerie formation. Gmoke sez, "William Gibson dreams of a mass of these things comprising a flying skyscraper. I imagine them as surveillance and policing drones ready to stop the OWS action or Arab Spring before it can start."

A Swarm of Nano Quadrotors (Thanks, Gmoke!)

Daniel Clowes documentary from 2002: Nostalgia and Paranoia

[Video Link] Daniel Clowes is profiled in this 30-minute documentary produced by a Dutch television channel. A little heavy-handed with the mood music but otherwise very good.

I was always convinced as a child that those perfect lines in comic books were made by some kind of tool that I just didn't know about, and that my parents weren't telling me about it. I used to always ask them, "Buy me the kind of pen they use to draw comics!" Of course, they had no idea, and so I spent pretty much my entire adolescence, 'til the time I was 14 or 15, trying to figure out what they used, and then finally someone told me, "They use a brush."

(Via Drawn)

Don Cornelius, R.I.P.

NYT: "Don Cornelius, the producer and television host who created the dance show “Soul Train,” was found shot dead in his Los Angeles home early Wednesday morning in what appears to be a suicide, the Los Angeles Police Department and the county coroner’s office said. He was 75 years old."

Studios winning the battle to stop Oscar screeners from leaking; losing the war

For ten years, Kickstarter founder former CTO Andy Baio has been compiling his "Pirating the Oscars" reports, which document which Oscar-nominated movies are available as downloads on P2P and other file-sharing services, measuring how effective the studios are at controlling leaks of "screeners" -- DVDs set to members of the Academy for review consideration. This year marks a turning point for the industry, as it ends a three-year-long trend of increased screener leaks.

However, Baio says, the studios have "won the battle and lost the war," as this year also marks the first year that 92 percent of the nominated films were "available as high-quality DVD or Blu-ray rips." As Baio notes, "If the goal of blocking leaks is to keep the films off the internet, then the MPAA still has a long way to go."

But the MPAA may have little to do with the decline. Oscar-nominated films could be coming out earlier in the year, making screeners less important.

Or maybe the interests between the mainstream downloader and industry favorites is diverging? If the Oscars are mostly arthouse fare and critical darlings, but with low gross receipts, they'll be less desirable to leak online. It would be very interesting to track the historical box office performance of nominees to see how it affects downloading. (Maybe next year!)

The continuously shrinking window between theatrical and retail releases may be to blame. After all, once the retail Blu-ray or DVD is released, there's no reason for pirate groups to release a lower-quality watermarked screener.

Pirating the Oscars 2012: Ten Years of Data

My lobster, let me show you it

There's a caption for this, but I'm drawing a blank. I'm depending on Boing Boing's hive mind to supply one. (Via X-Ray Delta One)

Lorenzo Oggiano's Quasi-Objects"

According to artist Lorenzo Oggiano, his computer-generated art is made to...

…stimulate thought and dialogue on the progressive relativisation of natural forms of life as a result of techno-biological evolution. "Quasi-Objects" regards data actualization, the production of biologically non-functional organisms and ecosystems as transient output of an operative practice: aesthetics of process...
Life is a real and autonomous process independent from any specific material manifestation (Via Drawn)

Apple Scotland - iPhone commercial for Siri

[Video Link] Language NSFW. (Thanks, Byrd!)

WSJ publishes actual climate scientists' letter on climate science

Andys sez, "The WSJ just published a letter to the editor in response to their No Need to Panic About Global Warming editorial from last week. The response is signed by (GASP!), actual climate scientists. Who'd have thought that we should maybe ask them? Alas, it doesn't get the same editor's note at the top that the original article received mentioning that it is signed by real climate scientists. I guess readers will have to scroll all the way to the bottom for proof that this is, in fact, true expert testimony for a change."

Here's our previous note on this.

Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition? In science, as in any area, reputations are based on knowledge and expertise in a field and on published, peer-reviewed work. If you need surgery, you want a highly experienced expert in the field who has done a large number of the proposed operations.

You published "No Need to Panic About Global Warming" (op-ed, Jan. 27) on climate change by the climate-science equivalent of dentists practicing cardiology. While accomplished in their own fields, most of these authors have no expertise in climate science. The few authors who have such expertise are known to have extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert. This happens in nearly every field of science. For example, there is a retrovirus expert who does not accept that HIV causes AIDS. And it is instructive to recall that a few scientists continued to state that smoking did not cause cancer, long after that was settled science.

Check With Climate Scientists for Views on Climate (Thanks, Andys!)

TOM THE DANCING BUG: God-Man, in "Copyright or CopyWRONG!"


Read the rest

Video: how to make cat ears

[Video Link
] I subscribe to RRcherrypie's videos because my daughter Jane and I like to watch how he or she makes those adorable little food kits (Here's a video of Jane making candy sushi). RRcherrypie's technique is always careful and delicate, and the videos are well-shot, well-edited, and somewhat intriguing. In the above video, RRcherrypie shows how to make cat ears.

Churchill on drone warfare

A 1924 article by Winston Churchill imagined drone warfare: "Might not a bomb no bigger than an orange be found to possess a secret power to destroy a whole block of buildings -- nay to concentrate the force of a thousand tons of cordite and blast a township at a stroke? Could not explosives even of the existing type be guided automatically in flying machines by wireless or other rays, without a human pilot, in ceaseless procession over a hostile city, arsenal, camp or dockyard?"

He called the article "Shall We All Commit Suicide?"

As Bruce Sterling points out, Churchill was a huge sf fan.

“Shall We All Commit Suicide?” or, Winston Churchill Imagines Drone Warfare, 1924

(Image: Predator Drone Aviation Nation Las Vegas, NV, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from davidrsmith's photostream)

Birth control recall

Failing to prevent pregnancy is a pretty big failure for a birth control pill. Pfizer is trying to avoid that outcome by recalling 1 million packets of potentially defective pills. What's the problem? Every packet contains 3 week's worth of birth control pills and a week's worth of sugar pills—basically to keep you in the habit of taking a pill every day even during your period week. Some of the defective packs don't contain enough sugar pills. That's not really a problem. In others, however, the actual birth control pills have been swapped for extra sugar pills. That's what Pfizer is worried about. The recall includes Pfizer Lo/Ovral-28 tablets and Akrimax Pharmaceuticals brand Norgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol tablets.

White House won't say if it will investigate MPAA boss for fraud

The White House says it can't comment on a petition to investigate former senator-turned MPAA boss Chris Dodd for fraud over the remarks he made in which he implied that his industry's campaign contributions were bribes in exchange for specific legislation. The White House says it "declines to comment on this petition because it requests a specific law enforcement action."

Heart-shaped hack box from Evil Mad Science Labs

A great how-to from our friends at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories: "A hack-box to go, filled with interconnects, LEDs, and love. Because, what better way to say I love you, than with the gift of electronics?"

Make a Heart-shaped hack box