Young fellow makes, tests and celebrates outstanding Rube Goldberg machine

Seven-year-old Audri designed this astounding Rube Goldberg machine, and then systematically studied its failure modes and improved it, producing a fine video account of his work. He is made of pure distillate of awesomesauce.

Audri's Rube Goldberg Monster Trap (via Make)

Time-lapse video of an ant colony eating a scanner, captured with the scanner in question

François Vautier infested his flatbed scanner with an ant-colony and scanned the burgeoning hive-organism every week for five years, producing a beautiful, stylized stop-motion record of the ants' slow consumption of his electronics.

Five years ago, I installed an ant colony inside my old scanner that allowed me to scan in high definition this ever evolving microcosm (animal, vegetable and mineral). The resulting clip is a close-up examination of how these tiny beings live in this unique ant farm. I observed how decay and corrosion slowly but surely invaded the internal organs of the scanner. Nature gradually takes hold of this completely synthetic environment.

ANTS in my scanner > a five years time-lapse! (via Kottke)

14-y-o Florida girl buys foreclosed house with money from Craigslist furniture-selling hobby

NPR's Planet Money profiles Willow Tufano, a 14-year-old Florida girl who saved thousands of dollars by harvesting furniture from foreclosed houses and selling it on eBay. She's just bought half interest in a house that went for $100,000 at the peak of the bubble. Her mom owns the other half, and the house went for $12,000. They rent it out for $700 a month now. Chana Joffe-Walt writes,


One day, Willow's mom, Shannon, saw a two-bedroom, concrete-block home on auction for $12,000 — down from $100,000 at the peak of the bubble. Shannon was telling her husband about the house, when Willow piped up.

"I was like, 'What if I bought a house? That would be crazy,' " Willow says...

As I was working on this story, I kept thinking that when a 14-year-old kid can buy a house, the market must have hit bottom. I kept saying this to Willow, and she'd sort of vaguely nod.

But it's hard for Willow to see herself as symbolic of anything. To a 14-year-old kid in Florida, the housing collapse is basically the only world she's known. It's the landscape. It's a Craigslist hobby.

This 14-Year-Old Girl Just Bought A House In Florida (via MeFi)

(Image: Chana Joffe-Walt)

RFID your stuff, find it with your mobile phone

Mitch Wagner sez, "uGrokIt lets people attach RFID tags to their stuff, locate it with a device that attaches to a smartphone, just like in Cory's Makers." The Geiger counter-style audio cues are a nice touch, and I like the salaryman who uses the gizmo to remind him that he's left his phone-charger under one of those pointless stand-up cards next to the nearly pointless land-line phone in his hotel room.

UGrokIt (Thanks, Mitch!)

Just look at this Banana Man.

Just look at him.

Bananamanology

Modding Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots

201203091445


We wanted to make our own version of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots for the Americans Elect lounge at SXSW, so we decided to replace the heads with a donkey and elephant heads, to represent the two political parties. This also goes with the giant plush donkey and elephant that people may see in action around SXSW, who are with us. Like the two parties, they just can’t get along.

For this maker’s project, we teamed up with our friends at LBi. Here’s how we did it…

Screen Shot 2012-03-09 At 2.47.49 Pm

We made rubber molds for the donkey head, donkey ears, elephant head and elephant ears. We sculpted the heads in clay, then pressed them halfway into a liquid rubber compound. We also made spherical indentations (“keys”) in the mold near the head on one side and a bump on the other, so we’d have something to line up the two halves of the mold. It’s very important that you spray a lot of mold release before you make the second part of the mold.

Read the rest

Looking for Lenny: Lenny Bruce, comedy and free speech

Looking for Lenny is a new documentary about Lenny Bruce and the way that free speech issues still resonate today. It's packed with comedy/spoken word legends talking about Bruce, from Robin Williams to Phyllis Diller, Mort Sahl, and Henry Rollins.

Looking for Lenny (Thanks, Dustin!)

Barista plunges three Aeropresses at once

Johanna writes, "Carlos Aguirre, a trainer at Academia Barista Pro, stunned audiences worldwide when he pushed not 1, not 2 but 3 aeropresses at the same time for his signature drink during National Salvadoran Barista Competition."

That's a lot of aeropressin'. The key scene starts at 20:41.

SUBCAMPEON de Baristas en El Salvador GANA Mejor Espresso del País - Entrenador Carlos Aguirre (Thanks, Johanna!) h

Joy Division's "Atmosphere," accompanied by slapped cats

[Video Link]. Yes, this remix video is months old, but you probably missed it—and it's not like stuff this weird ever grows old. The song is here. (Thanks, Tara McGinley!)

Must-listen radio: "Nuclear Power After Fukushima," documentary from BURN: An Energy Journal


Veteran radio journalist and master storyteller Alex Chadwick (who's also a personal friend—he's taught me so much about journalism over the years) hosts a must-listen radio documentary premiering this weekend on public radio stations throughout the US.

BURN: An Energy Journal is a four-hour, four-part broadcast and digital documentary series exploring "the most pressing energy issues of our times."

Part One of the series, titled "Particles: Nuclear Power After Fukushima," coincides with March 11, the first anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. I've listened in entirety, and followed along as the BURN team researched and produced over the past few months, and I can tell you this is truly powerful work. The show also includes PBS Newshour reporter Miles O'Brien, reporting from inside the Fukushima exclusion zone on his recent trip there.

Carve out some time and listen to it on-air, or listen online at this link.

Snip from description:

Included in the riveting premiere episode is an exclusive, first-time-ever interview with an American who was on-site at the Daiichi nuclear plant when the earthquake and tsunami struck. Carl Pillitteri, a maintenance supervisor and one of 40 Americans in Fukushima on that fateful day, describes his terrifying ordeal as he desperately attempted to lead his men to safety through the enormous, shuddering turbine buildings in total darkness.

Below, a video excerpt from Alex's interview with Pillitteri.

More about the radio series follows.

Read the rest

Computer-generated PR spam trying not to look like computer-generated PR spam

PR people sometimes say "I loved your coverage of x, perhaps you'd like to hear about y!". The idea is to ensure that I, Esteemed Journalist, know that I am worthy of personalized attention, rather than being an entry on a mailing list.

Some of them, however, are trying to have their cake and eat it, too. I've started getting emails that contain computer-generated personal touches. Computers trying to copy what humans would say to avoid looking like computers!

Here's one that just came in. He/she/it even tweeted me about an unrelated subject--a nice proofing touch--shortly before the email came in. Needless to say, the pitch is terrible. As the named sender might be a real person, I've changed the name to spare them the embarrassment.

Hello Rob,

My name is [horse_PR] and I work with BlueGlass Interactive, Inc. During SOPA, I found a particular interest in, "Infographic: Hollywood's long war on technology." This infographic did a great job at presenting SOPA, in a way that the average consumer could understand.

I noticed a good portion of your site is dedicated to Gweek and Computers. I thought you might enjoy a related infographic, "12 Cities to Find an IT Job." With product and service development growing, more IT jobs are emerging across the states. This IG reviews the top 12 cities that are currently growing and hiring in the IT realm. I believe a good portion of your readership would find this IG to be a great resource!

Do you agree?

I'd love to have you feature this on BoingBoing. I've attached the IG for your review. I look forward to receiving your feedback!

Kind Regards, [horse_PR]

BlueGlass turns out to be an infographic/SEO/marketing outfit: the business model is to make ads look like content, then pitch them to sites as free editorial. The visual complexity of infographics helps conceal or transmute advertising material, and their linkbaityness makes it easy to get them picked up and linked to. I've fallen for it, once before! In this case, the offered infographic advertised the IT recruiter that presumably paid for the service.

Given that I am making hay of BlueGlass's incompetence, I thought it only fair that I publish this infographic in full. It may be seen to the right.

Outernationally-inspired global punk from Neung Phak

 Np2Cover

Last week, I posted about Alan Bishop and Sublime Frequencies, the fantastic label that issues outernational psych, and folk from Indonesia, China, Myanmar, and other locales. Mark Gergis is one of Sublime Frequencies' intrepid travelers and he has his own band, Neung Phak, whose music is inspired by the strange brew of "exotic" music Gergis has encountered during his adventures in Southeast Asia. Spun-off from Gergis's previous band Mono Pause, Neung Phak refer to themselves as a "Bay Area Southeast Asian bar band." I can only describe Neung Phak as raw, global pop punk heavily informed by the local flavors of folk/pop/acid-rock in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. Their new album, 2, is available from Forced Exposure in a limited vinyl edition of 500 copies with a digital download card. It's consistently powerful and moves from trippy psychedelic jams to weird poppy ass-shaking groovers without missing a beat. From Neung Phak's label, Abduction:

Neung Phak have returned with their second full-length studio LP. 2 showcases molam-folk pop and acid-rock hauntings from Thailand's yesterday and today, Javanese dance floor dangdut, and Cambodian instrumental dramas -- all retold in inimitable Neung Phak parlance. The stunning Indonesian pop gem, "Bang Toyib," (heard above), features guest Alan Bishop (Sun City Girls) on Bahasa vocals. Thai dance-pop cuts "Poot" and "Poo Jud" feature veteran singer Diana Hayes. The damning "Fucking USA" was purportedly recorded in a North Korean studio -- and the epic retelling of the classic southern Thai-styled "Sat Chatri," closes down the LP in sprawling, psychedelic form.

Neung Phak

Woman terrorized by Godzilla, the turkey from hell

Everything about this video news report by Eric Seals of the Detroit Free-Press is awesome.

Edna Geisler, 69, of Commerce Township has been stalked for two months by an aggressive male wild turkey (a "tom") who "lurks in her front yard, screeching at her constantly, even jumping out occasionally and attacking her when she dares wander outside alone."

His name: Godzilla.

"I'm afraid to go out of my house," said Geisler. "I have to go to the post office at 6 o'clock in the morning to avoid him."

Still more proof NYPD spying program focused on Muslims who were not suspected of any crimes

The AP has published more documents today which offer further evidence that the The New York Police Department "kept secret files on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims." The NYPD monitored these people based solely on their religion.

Meet Slovak Batman

Zoltan Kohari, known as the Slovak Batman, poses in his home in the town of Dunajska Streda, 34 miles (55 km) south of Bratislava. Kohari, who is 26 years old, lives alone in an abandoned building without water, heat or electricity. For local residents he became known as "the hero in a Batman's costume." While he has not fought crime yet, he does believe in justice and wants to help the police. In the mean time, Kohari, who is poor, does what he can to help the residents to make their daily life easier. In return, some of these residents give him food. (REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa, photo dated March 8, 2012)