Epic American drought gets worse in key farm states, after hottest month on record

This does not bode well for food prices: the Plains states where corn and soybeans are produced in greatest quantities are receiving the worst of excessive drought conditions, in the wake of the hottest month ever recorded in the US. Welcome to the new Dust Bowl? Read the rest

Whales: Surprise, the world's largest mammals produce the world's largest turds

Wired Science has a revealing post about a particularly notable plume of whale poop spotted by a scientist off the Southern California coast. From giant animals come giant poo. Marine biologists and oceanographers get to study stuff like this with their serious-face on. Read the rest

Travis Louie paints the Thylacine

Behold Travis Louie's magnificent take on the Thylacine! Declared extinct in 1936, thousands of unconfirmed sightings have made the beautiful animal a darling of cryptozoology. Louie's painting is part of the Lush Life Four group show opening tomorrow evening at Seattle's Roq La Rue Gallery. The exhibition also includes work by BB faves Jessica Joslin, Camille Rose Garcia, Annie Owens, Glenn Barr, and more. Lush Life Four preview Read the rest

Here's 70 minutes of Russian dashcam video showing car collisions

[Video Link] Joey deVilla says: "Here’s an interesting compilation: 70 minutes of (mostly) Russian car collisions, from mild fender-benders to all-out flip-the-car moments, most of which were shot using dashboard-mounted cameras. None of the video depict injuries; just car and other property damage, plus some exclamations in Russian."

Bad Driving’s Greatest Hits Read the rest

A moveable mosque: One young Muslim woman's daily photoblog (video)

The "30 Mosques" guys are producing some wonderful "30 Days Ramadan" videos this year that really give you a sense of what it's like to be a Muslim person in America. I enjoyed this one, featuring a young woman named Deena who loses her job, then decides chronicle her life through a photoblog. More about the project here. Subscribe to their video channel here. Deena's photoblog is here, and full of beautiful things. (thanks, Bassam Tariq!)

Read the rest

Sideshow banner art show in Texas

Waxahachie, Texas's excellent Webb Gallery is hosting an exhibition of more than a dozen vintage sideshow banners! Titled "The Greatest Show On Earth," it runs until September 9 and can be browsed online too. Above left, "Crime Wave" by an unknown artist, circa 1930; right, "2 Face Man" by famed sideshow artist Snap Wyatt, circa 1940s. Read the rest

The story of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" (video)

My friends Richard Metzger and Tara McGinley of Dangerous Minds re-sparked my interest in early Pink Floyd the other night, when I visited their home: they were playing a quadrophonic version of Wish You Were Here on their excellent quad-compliant speaker system, while some of the experimental films the band played during the tour for that album ran on a nearby monitor. It was a great night. Today, Richard shares word of "The Making of Wish You Were Here" (2012), a really cool documentary film about the making of that album, and that era in the band's evolution.

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An "extremely rare anti-masturbation device"

I'm sure this didn't cause any psychological issues in the Catholic boys forced to wear this.

The rare 19th century item is made of copper and was designed to be worn by boys so they could not commit the 'sin'. Attached to a belt it would have encased the genitalia. The bizarre antique dates back to around 1880 and was used in Catholic France. It is being offered for sale on auction website eBay with a starting price of £750.

Seller David Burns, of Curious Science, says that during a quarter of a century dealing in medical curiosities he has never had one for sale... "This is the first example we have offered for sale in 24 years. The condition is excellent. Three and half inches top to base."

An "extremely rare anti-masturbation device"

Previously: Antique anti-masturbation device Read the rest

Man with Parkinson's arrested at Olympics event for not smiling

"The man was positioned close to a small group of protesters and based on his manner, his state of dress and his proximity to the course, officers made an arrest to prevent a possible breach of the peace," Surrey police said in a statement. Read the rest

Cat-loving teen with cancer gets a "cat immersion" tent at hospital

I've been spending rather a lot of time in the cancer ward at a hospital lately, and I think this is a fabulous idea: a "cat immersion tent."

The teen girl in this video, Maga, is a cancer patient at Seattle Children's Hospital. She loves her cat—actually, she loves all cats— and has had to be isolated in the hospital with no cat contact, for health reasons. "During her stays what she misses most is her own cat Merry," the Seattle Children's Hospital folks say.

We asked our Facebook fans to share their favorite cat photos with us, and got an awesome response -- 3,000+ photos! We used these pictures to create this "cat immersion" for Maga -- an audio/visual experience to bring thousands of "virtual" cats to Maga's room.

More of the photos they received on this Facebook page. This is the same hospital that produced the viral "Stronger" video. Sounds like a really cool environment for pediatric cancer patients.

More at Laughing Squid. Read the rest

33 Quips for Queers (video)

[Video Link] Joe Sabia, our Boing Boing video on Virgin America collaborator, directed this absolutely fabulous video for Montreal's "Queer of the Year" contest. Read the rest

Most epic slow-speed police chase ever (video)

[ Video Link] This video has it all: a giant truck carrying tons of lumber, a manic suspect, a maudlin news narrator (added after the fact) intoning cliches, cops shooting guns, and lots of fire and 'splodey stuff.

It's weird how something like this would be terrifying and tragic if you were there or someone you loved was affected, but it's the stuff of lulz in YouTube form now. So surreal.

(via Joe Sabia) Read the rest

Golf balls stuffed into holes of lava wall

It's been a few years since I thought about these photos I took of golf balls stuffed into lava rock holes in Hawaii. They were brought to my attention again by the group administrator for the Flickr group Golf Balls: Bad Lie. Read the rest

Al Jazeera on the copyfight: it's about control over sharing without boundaries or regulations

James from the New America Foundation sez,

The latest Fault Lines documentary from Al Jazeera English is a must see. The piece argues that Internet policy debates - from copyright to cybersecurity - are about centralized control versus "the ability to share information across the world without traditional boundries or regulations."

My colleague Sascha Meinrath argues that these SOPA and Protect IP were demonstrative of RIAA and MPAA investments in political power and the documentary notes that these were "not about pirated entertainment but how do we live in the digital age and who gets to decide what we do." Sascha argues that these bills were demonstrative of RIAA and MPAA investments in political power.

The documentary wades into current cybersecurity debates and how they are fundamentally at odds with core conceptualizations of Internet freedom. Sascha argues that we are heading towards a world that requires a surveillance mechanism to support a locked down system where choice of applications, services, or speech is controlled. Clearly, the folks at Fault Lines understand what is at stake.

Fault Lines : Controlling the web (Thanks, James!) Read the rest

Searching for Magic in India and Silicon Valley: An Interview with Daniel Kottke, Apple Employee #12

Daniel Kottke lives and works in Palo Alto, Ca. Here, he talks about the genesis of his 1974 trip to India with Steve Jobs.

Daniel Kottke was one of Apple's first employees, assembling the company's earliest kit computers with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in a California kitchen. In 1974, Jobs and Kottke backpacked across India in search of themselves; now, they are industry legends. Along the way, he debugged circuit boards, helped design the Apple III and the Mac, and became host of Palo Alto cable TV show The Next Step. Read the rest

The Eighth Continent: Searching for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

20 AUGUST—34°42' N 140°19' W

In the middle of the night, I dream that I am at the wheel of a great ship, sailing the Pacific Ocean. A hundred and fifty feet of steel, crowned with a dozen broad sails, forces itself forward through the waves. The rigging creaks with the roll of the ship. Water hisses along the lee rail. I adjust the wheel, peering at the binnacle to see our heading.

We’ve been at sea for nearly a week, and for weeks more we have no hope of seeing land. What we do hope to see, though, is something much rarer, something that amounts to a new and dark wonder of the world.

We are aboard the Kaisei, sailing to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Read the rest

Unboxing the astoundingly cool, dirt-filled ParaNorman press-box

I've just come back from a four-week working vacation with my family in LA, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Mountain View. As is customary on the morning after a long-distance family trip, I dragged my jet-lagged butt into my PO Box, where there was the usual mountain of stuff waiting for me -- bills, books for review, and a heap of junk mail as tall as me. But today, there was also a bubble-wrapped crate, quite heavy. Groaning a little at the thought of dragging this to the office, I peeled back the bubble-wrap...and then hastily jammed it back again, as the crate disintegrated and began to dump green potting soil on the carpet of my mailbox company.

We taped the whole thing back up again and I got it to the office in the back of a taxi. Once here, I grabbed a knife and set the crate down on a revolting, sodden sofa some miscreant dumped in the parking lot, thinking that whatever the box spilled out onto that wreck could only improve it. As I sliced away the bubble-wrap again, the crate completely fell to pieces, revealing an upside-down wooden coffin. I'd opened it from the bottom! Digging through the greenish soil (which was odorless, though it did leave powdery smears on my clothes), I discovered that the top of the box sported some live sod, and under that, a piece of semi-rotted burlap that semi-protected the coffin's lid, which was intricately laser-cut with an 18th-century date and a monstrous icon. Read the rest