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HOWTO make a kids' jetpack

Last September, Moosie made a kick-ass soda-bottle toy jetpack for a flight-obsessed toddler:

Step 1: Spray plastic bottles with plastic primer (I used Krylon Fusion). Let dry.

Step 2: Spray bottles with your favorite silver spray paint (doesn't have to be plastic specific.) Let dry.

Step 3: Adhere bottles to a piece of cardboard, approximately the width of the bottles next to each other. Let dry.

Step 4: Use ribbon to create backpack-like straps. Adhere. (I used duct tape. That shiz works for everything!)

Step 5: Cut crepe paper strips to create flames. Glue the tops of the strips to another piece of crepe paper. Let dry.

Step 6: Accordion fold the top strip of the flames. Glue to the inside of the bottle tops (which are actually the bottom of the jetpack.) Let Dry.

Step 7: Run around the house making flying sounds with your mouth (or let your kid handle this step)

Jet Pack (via Neatorama)

All the finest blips and bloops: Kubbi's "Sleet" release listening party

If you like electronic music, there's a great listening party for Kubbi's new album "Sleet" going on right now. The album drops after the listen through finishes at Kubbi's BandCamp page where you can also pick up his two previous (excellent) albums at your own price. Kubbi's one of those catchy musicians I just can't stop listening to. Update: It's over! Go get the album!

Homemade R2D2 shorts

The aptly named Productiveslacker (with a kick-ass bio! "a seasonal cast member at WDW and I aspire to become an Imagineer. I am a painter and a t-shirt designer") made these boss R2D2 shorts herself.

They don’t sell R2D2 shorts so I painted my own :) (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

7' fire-breathing, flying dragon built by RC airplane hobbyist

Franceso sez, "Rick Hamel, an American RC airplanes builder, created the Mythical Beast, a radio controlled fire-breathing dragon. It's powered by a Jetcat P80 Kerostart turbine, is over 7 feet long and has a wing span of 9 feet. Beside flying, this scratchbuilt dragon is able to breath fire thanks to a liquid propane and a stun gun circuit. Mythical Beast won Best of Show at the Weak Signal event held in Toledo a few weeks ago."

Drago Volante Sputafuoco Radiocomandato - RC Dragon (Thanks, Francesco!)

Event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the mysterious Voynich manuscript

On her wonderful page of "Famous Unsolved Codes and Ciphers" the game developer and recreational code-cracker Elonka Dunin describes the Voynich Manuscript, which is written in an as-yet uncrackable cipher:

201204301635At least 600 years old, this is a 232-page illuminated manuscript entirely written in a secret script. It is filled with copious drawings of unidentified plants, herbal recipes of some sort, astrological diagrams, and many small human figures in strange plumbing-like contraptions. Carbon-dated to the early 1400s, it was brought to modern attention in 1912 when it was purchased by Wilfrid Voynich from the collections at the Villa Mondragone, near Rome. Color images of all of the pages can be seen at and Yale's Beinecke Library website (the current owner of the manuscript). The script is unlike anything else in existence, but is written in a confident style, seemingly by someone who was very comfortable with it.

On Friday, May 11, a celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of the re-discovery of the Voynich manuscript will take place in Rome. The program includes a number of presentations about the history of the Voynich manuscript, forensic investigations, word structure and statistical analysis, and an interpretation of its unusual drawings.

If any Boing Boing readers are attending, we'd love a report!

Conference: VOYNICH 100 -- A Hundred Years from the Re-discovery at Villa Mondragone

New Aesthetic eruption

A New Aesthetic eruption I caught yesterday off Brick Lane in east London: this LCD adverscreen displaying rotating, chiding public safety messages beneath a CCTV camera, nestled among the graffiti-daubed old buildings above the cobbled and thronged street.

CCTV and LCD adverscreen with anti-booze PSA, a New Aesthetic Eruption, Brick Lane, Hackney, London, UK.jpg

Liar - Thief - Cheat - Selfish - Unsharing - Unloving - Unkind - Disloyal - Dishonorable - Unfaithful

201204301518I hope Bernard wasn't upset by the addendum to his grave marker.

MAKE interviews bunnie Huang

Phil Torrone interviewed Andrew (bunnie) Huang about the end of his company Chumby, and what he's working on now.

201204301514What are you currently working on? I recently saw an open-source hardware radiation detector and HDMI “hack” that’s full shipping product.

Since the end of chumby, I’ve been continuing to produce open source reference designs. One of the wonderful parts of living in Singapore is that even though I made no money from the exit at chumby, I am able to choose a lifestyle where I can engage in non-profit, community-oriented design work. Although Singapore has a reputation for being an expensive city to live in, I’ve found the public housing to be reasonably priced, and combined with a solid public healthcare system, $60/month 100-Mbit home broadband connections, and ubiquitous hawker centers featuring $3 dishes celebrated by Anthony Bourdain, I have everything I need to geek out on a shoestring budget.

A personal goal of mine is to spend a year building things that I care about, as opposed to things that could make investors rich.

MAKE’s Exclusive Interview with Andrew (bunnie) Huang – The End of Chumby, New Adventures

Car hits girls sunbathing in road

Impromptu tanning salon
Two 13-year-old girls sunbathing in a rural road were struck by a car Sunday. Police in Beaver County, PA., said that the pair were in fair condition at Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital. The driver was one of the teens' cousins; he was questioned and released by authorities. "They were upset," another relative told WTAE-TV. "It was like the worst thing I've ever seen... I was like crying real bad. Shaking."

Building covered in old clothes

The Guardian's Deborah Orr is probably right that the Marks and Spencer "shwopping" initiative is "an ugly word for a dubious enterprise", but I am rather taken with this promotion for the program. M&S is encouraging shoppers to "shwop" -- swap their old clothes for discount vouchers when they buy new clothes at M&S, with the old clothes going to charity -- and to promote the affair, they covered this large Truman Brewery warehouse building off Brick Lane with used clothes, to great effect.


Mitt Romney beatboxing

[Video Link] Special effects are used here in an attempt to artificially enhance the credibility of candidate Mitt Romney. I hope the public isn't fooled into taking him more seriously because of this video.

Rules for chess

The Olympics are still months away, the surface-to-air missiles are still tucked safely in their beds, but already our talented signwriters are practicing night and day for the 100m passive-aggressive signmaking event, judging by this sweet number I photographed yesterday.

Passive aggressive chess advisory, community centre, London, UK.jpg

Kitchen Kong Gorilla Whisk in Boing Boing shop


"When I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things, except for my Kitchen Kong Gorilla Whisk." -- 1 Corinthians 13:11

Available in the Boing Boing Shop!

UK judge orders Pirate Bay block

A British court ordered that internet service providers must block access to link-sharing site The Pirate Bay. [BBC]

The tech press remembers nothing

Anil Dash on why you can't trust the tech press to tell you about the tech industry. The primary example: rumors of a Google-based blog commenting system as if such a thing had not already lived and died.

Victorian change packets: little envelopes for your small change

Julie L. Mellby posts on Princeton University Library's Graphic Arts Collection blog about the Victorian "Change Packet," a little paper envelope that Victorian shopkeepers used to present customers' change (as Abi points out on Making Light, this embodies some odd assumptions, like shopkeepers never shortchanging their customers, and customers not wanting to spend their change at the next shop). These are beautiful items, and have a fascinating history. From The Encyclopedia of Ephemera: a Guide to the Fragmentary Documents of Everyday Life for the Collector, Curator, and Historian (Michael Twyman, Maurice Rickards):

“Among the refinements of middle-class Victorian shopping was the giving of change not directly from hand to hand but in paper packets. Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal in a review of London shops and shopping (15 October 1853), makes passing note of the custom. A customer seeking to buy a pair of kid gloves ‘is met at the door by a master of the ceremonies, who escorts him to the precise spot where what he seeks awaits him … He walks over rich carpets, in which his feet sink as though upon a meadow-sward; and he may contemplate his portrait at full length in half-a-dozen mirrors, while that pair of gentlemen’s kids at 2s 10 ½ d is being swaddled in tissue-paper, and that remnant of change in the vulgar metal of which coal-scuttles are made … is being decently interred in a sort of vellum sarcophagus ere it is presented to his acceptance’.”

“The envelope, known as a ‘change packet,’ measured some 60 mm (2 ½ in) square and was printed with the legend ‘The change, with thanks’, often in a decorative roundel or other device. Printing was generally in a single colour; sometimes the design appeared as a white, embossed image on a coloured background.”

“The packets were supplied to the shopkeeper either as a stock design in which there was no trade message, or printed specially to order with name, address, and designation presented as a form of miniature trade card. Additionally, the shopkeeper might be supplied with the packets at much reduced rates, if not free of charge, by the new breed of national advertisers who used the printing space on the packet for their own message. Typical of these were Huntley & Palmers, biscuit manufacturers, whose change packets were widely used. Their Royal Appointment design appears in two packet sizes and a variety of colours.”

Your change, with thanks (via Making Light)

Sponsor shout-out: ShanaLogic

Mommmm Thank you to our sponsor ShanaLogic, sellers of handmade and independently designed jewelry, apparel, gifts, and other fine products. Mother's Day in the US is coming up on May 13 and this plush Mom Tattoo Heart Pillow (13" x 11"), from ShanaLogic's Mother's Day Gift Guide, would make a lovely present for the right mom. Shana says, "I'm giving 10% off orders over $50 with code: GREAT and 15% off orders over $100 with code: GREATEST"

Great Roy Krenkel illustration: The Golden Age of Pâtaliputra of the Gupta Empire

Thomas Haller Buchanan shared this stunning illustration by the great Roy Krenkel: "The Golden Age of Pâtaliputra of the Gupta Empire." Krenkel drew science fiction and fantasy for EC Comics, and he painted covers for a bunch or Edgar Rice Burroughs novels.

Frank Frazetta said, "I met Roy Krenkel back in 1949 or 1950, and he has never ceased to be a constant source of inspiration to me -- a truly conscientious artist who will not tolerate incompetence."

Even when Roy Krenkel drew reconstructions of historical eras of Earth, they looked other-worldly, as out of a dream.

Samsung TVs can be plunged into endless restarts with easy attack

Some WiFi-connected Samsung TVs can be put into an endless restart loop by sending invalid new-remote-added messages to them. Best part: the researcher who discovered this couldn't report it, because Sammy doesn't have a locatable facility for accepting information about security flaws.

“The bugs have been tested on a d6000 and d6050 TV, but it's highly possible that many of the Samsung devices supporting this protocol are vulnerable because d6xxx is a recent TV and usually these 'core' components are like libraries shared with other devices that make use of the same protocol,” he said via email.

Auriemma claims there is no fix for these bugs because he was unable to report the bugs to Samsung. He has also received no word from Samsung. He claims that Samsung doesn’t even have a channel through which to report these types of bugs.

Researcher Causes Endless Restart Loop on Samsung TVs (via The Command Line)

Cool artwork made from 3,600 tiles of LCD glass

I was on a panel with the amazing multimedia artist Jeff Lieberman at the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder, Colorado earlier this month. His latest work (which he created in collaboration with SosoLimited and Hypersonic Engineering + Design) is called Patterned by Nature. Here's how he describes it.

Patterned by Nature was commissioned by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for the newly built Nature Research Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The artwork, a collaboration between Hypersonic Engineering & Design, Plebian Design, and Sosolimited, celebrates our abstraction of nature's infinite complexity into patterns through the scientific process, and through our perceptions. It brings to light the similarity of patterns in our universe, across all scales of space and time.

10 feet wide and 90 feet in length, this sculptural ribbon winds through the five story atrium of the museum and is made of 3,600 tiles of LCD glass. It runs on roughly 75 watts, less power than a laptop computer. Animations are created by independently varying the transparency of each piece of glass.

The content cycles through twenty programs, ranging from clouds to rain drops to colonies of bacteria to flocking birds to geese to cuttlefish skin to pulsating black holes. The animations were created through a combination of algorithmic software modeling of natural phenomena and compositing of actual footage.

An eight channel soundtrack accompanies the animations on the ribbon, giving visitors clues to the identity of the pixelated movements. In addition, two screens show high resolution imagery and text revealing the content on the ribbon at any moment.

Patterned by Nature (Thanks, Nirvan!)

Psychedelic anti-Marijuana TV spot from the 1980s

Transmitted from the "Just Say No" 1980s, this delightfully psychedelic anti-pot public service message.

Learning from the Octopus: How Secrets from Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorist Attacks, Natural Disasters, and Disease: Excerpt

Here's an excerpt from the new book Learning from the Octopus: How Secrets from Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorist Attacks, Natural Disasters, and Disease by Rafe Sagarin.

201204301135Despite the billions of dollars we’ve poured into foreign wars, homeland security, and disaster response, we are fundamentally no better prepared for the next terrorist attack or unprecedented flood than we were in 2001. Our response to catastrophe remains unchanged: add another step to airport security, another meter to the levee wall. This approach has proved totally ineffective: reacting to past threats and trying to predict future risks will only waste resources in our increasingly unpredictable world.

In Learning from the Octopus, ecologist and security expert Rafe Sagarin rethinks the seemingly intractable problem of security by drawing inspiration from a surprising source: nature. Biological organisms have been living -- and thriving -- on a risk-filled planet for billions of years. Remarkably, they have done it without planning, predicting, or trying to perfect their responses to complex threats. Rather, they simply adapt to solve the challenges they continually face.

Military leaders, public health officials, and business professionals would all like to be more adaptable, but few have figured out how. Sagarinargues that we can learn from observing how nature is organized, how organisms learn, how they create partnerships, and how life continually diversifies on this unpredictable planet.

As soon as we dip our toes into a cold Pacific tidepool and watch what we thought was a rock turn into an octopus, jetting away in a cloud of ink, we can begin to see the how human adaptability can mimic natural adaptation. The same mechanisms that enabled the octopus’s escape also allow our immune system to ward off new infectious diseases, helped soldiers in Iraq to recognize the threat of IEDs, and aided Google in developing faster ways to detect flu outbreaks.

While we will never be able to predict the next earthquake, terrorist attack, or market fluctuation, nature can guide us in developing security systems that are not purely reactive but proactive, holistic, and adaptable. From the tidepools of Monterey to the mountains of Kazakhstan, Sagarin takes us on an eye-opening tour of the security challenges we face, and shows us how we might learn to respond more effectively to the unknown threats lurking in our future.

Read the excerpt from Learning from the Octopus

Rare and unseen 1945 photos of Hitler's bunker and Berlin, destroyed


LIFE has posted a powerful series of rare and unpublished photographs shot by William Vandivert, 33, the first Western photographer inside Adolph Hilter's Führerbunker. Vandivert was on the scene shortly after Berlin fell in April of 1945. This is Hitler's inner sanctum inside the bunker, "partially burned by retreating German troops and stripped of valuables by invading Russians." "Hitler's Bunker And The Ruins Of Berlin" (Thanks, Gabe Adiv!)

Winner of Boing Boing's M.O.N.G.O.L.I.A.D. fiction competition!

201204301116On April 19 we announced a competition in conjunction with the release of The Mongoliad Trilogy, by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, and five other authors. The rules were simple: write a short story in which the first letter of each sentence spells M.O.N.G.O.L.I.A.D.

The 150+ entries were remarkable. Really, every one was enjoyable and I became very impressed by the literary chops of our readers. Congratulations to all of you! But, only one person can win the prize: a galley copy of The Mongoliad, signed by all seven authors.

After much consideration, the signed galley copy has been awarded to Scratheee! Read Scratchee's story here.

Second place is awarded to mamarox, and third place honors go to rivenmyst137.

Other honorable mentions (in no particular order):

edgarhjelte, Myles Kelvin, Robert Baruch, Jan Heirtzler, jarmstrong, Edward Cossaboom, Kaellinn18, Alf Seegert, Heinrich Finger, Lorena B, Isaac Smith, Tom White, Chiasheep.

Thanks to everyone who entered the competition!

Funktastic mix of Prince and family

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The new issue of Wax Poetics magazine is all about Prince and his extended family. Inspired by that regal blast, electrofunk label Citinite put together this fantastic "Minnseapolis Special" mix. It features unreleased 1980s tracks and classic jams by Prince, The Time, Jesse Johnson's Review, Apollonia 6, and others of that influential First Avenue scene. "Let's have some action! Let's have some asses wiggling'… I want some perfection!" Track list over at the Wax Poetics post "Minneapolis Special" (via Greg Dulli)

America's decade of reverse-nation-building at home

In Sunday's NYT, EL Doctorow (no relation) with a remarkable polemic on how the USA has spent the past 12 years dismantling any justification for "American Execptionalism" with a series of domestic and international foolishnesses, evils, and crimes.

Using the state of war as justification, order secret surveillance of American citizens, data mine their phone calls and e-mail, make business, medical and public library records available to government agencies, perform illegal warrantless searches of homes and offices.

Take to torturing terrorism suspects, here or abroad, in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. Unilaterally abrogate the Convention Against Torture as well as the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war. Commit to indeterminate detention without trial those you decide are enemies. For good measure, trust that legislative supporters will eventually apply this policy as well to American citizens.

Suspend progressive taxation so that the wealthiest pay less proportionately than the middle class. See to it that the wealth of the country accumulates to a small fraction of the population so that the gap between rich and poor widens exponentially.

Unexceptionalism: A Primer

Rose Kallal's 16mm film installation, music by Kallal and Mark Pilkington

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Rose Kallal is a New York-based artist/musician who creates immersive 16mm film installation using multiple projectors. This entrancing video is a recording of "Implicate, Explicate," a film for three projectors with visuals cut-up from 3D geometric computer simulations and Kallal's own low-fi footage. It was installed in the recent Chromatropic exhibition at The Hidden Noise gallery in Glasgow. The music is an original score by Kallal and the infamous Mark Pilkington (above, left) of Strange Attractor press and Raagnagrok.

Woman coughs up "tumor"

Above left is 62-year-old Bianca Riveron's lung x-ray showing a block spot that physicians told her was likely cancer. For decades, she had suffered from a constant cough and difficulty breathing. A few months ago, she coughed up blood and the doctors noticed the dark mass in her lung. But after a second endoscopy, Riveron coughed up the "tumor." Best guess is that it was the pit of a nispero fruit that Riveron inhaled nearly thirty years ago. "Lung ''cancer'' may have been fruit pit from 1984" (WTSP)

Stolen: ten ton bridge

In the US, it's not uncommon for thieves to steal copper wire and plumbing from homes. But in Slavkov, Czech Republic, a gang made off with a ten ton metal footbridge. This beats the 4 ton bridge stolen in the Czech Republic in 2008 that Cory posted about. Apparently, this gang had "official" documents approving the dismantling. Gives new meaning to the phrase, "I've got a bridge to sell you." From The Telegraph:

"The thieves said they had been hired to demolish the bridge, and remove the unwanted railway track to make way for a new cycle route," he said.

"It was only after they had gone that checks were made and we realized we'd been had. The cost of replacing the bridge will run into millions."

"Czech metal thieves dismantle 10-ton bridge"

Student's brain flatlined during classes

From "A Wearable Sensor for Unobtrusive, Long-term Assessment of Electrodermal Activity" (by Poh, M.Z., Swenson, N.C., Picard, R.W. in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, vol.57, no.5), a chart showing a single student's electrodermal activity over the course of a week. Note the neural flatlining during classtime. As Joi Ito notes, "Note that the activity is higher during sleep than during class." He also adds, "Obviously, this is just one student and doesn't necessarily generalize."

A week of a student's electrodermal activity (Thanks, Joi!)