Boing Boing 

Father and son send toy train into the stratosphere

Maker dad Ron Fugelseth and his 4-year-old son sent the boy's favorite toy train eighteen miles up into the stratosphere aboard a weather balloon outfitted with an HD camera and salvaged cell phone for GPS. Then he made this lovely video. (Thanks, Kelly Sparks!)

Fallout shelter necessities

From 1962, a sparkling set of electronics for your fallout shelter.

Equip your fallout shelter.

Gweek 068: Matthew Modine

Click here to play this episode. Gweek is Boing Boing's podcast about comic books, science fiction and fantasy, video games, board games, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.

My co-hosts for this episode are:

Jamie Frevele, Boing Boing's entertainment editor, comedian, and former editor of The Mary Sue.

Actor Matthew Modine, who has lent his voice talents to a new interactive book for kids called Punky Dunk and the Gold Fish, which is designed to make learning to read fun and something parents and kids can share. Matthew also recently released the Full Metal Jacket Diary app, which is an amazing iPad app that includes Matthew’s on-set photos and diary entries of his experiences during the time he was in the Kubrick movie.


Here's a demo of the Full Metal Jacket Diary app:

FULL METAL JACKET DIARY iPad App Demo Video from Cinco Dedos Peliculas on Vimeo.

Gweek 068: Matthew Modine (MP3)

Past episodes of Gweek: 001, 001, 002, 003, 004, 005, 006, 007, 008, 009, 010, 011, 012, 013, 014, 015, 016, 017, 018, 019, 020, 021, 022, 023, 024, 025, 026, 027, 028, 029, 030, 031, 032, 033, 034, 035, 036, 037, 038, 039, 040, 041, 042, 043, 044, 045, 046, 047, 048, 049, 050, 051, 052, 053, 054, 055, 056, 057, 058, 059, 060, 061, 062, 063, 064, 065, 066, 067, 068

Kickstarter re-commits to ideas instead of pre-orders

Kickstarter updated its policies for product design today: a move that will cost the firm money but relieve tension caused by fast promises and slow delivery.Read the rest

Video about New Dimension comic book store (featuring Ed Piskor!)

[Video Link] I was thrilled to see our pal Ed "Brain Rot" Piskor in this great video about a fantastic old-school comic book store on Pennsylvania called New Dimension that actually sells used comic books!

Ed says:

Hey Mark. I'm not too sure what the comic shops look like in Cali, but on the east coast, it seems like boxes and boxes of back issues, and real estate costs have been clashing with stores and a lot of shops have been relegated to selling collections, graphic novels, etc. Stuff that fits on the bookshelf.

I have a couple really great cartoonist friends in Pittsburgh, who brought me along to this store I've never been to, in the middle of farm country, where this guy seems to be buying massive collections from estates, and from shops that have gone out of business, and it looks like he's figured out a way to make selling back issues work for his business.

My pal Julie Sokolow thought it was worth filming and she cut a video together of our trip there. Thought you might dig the geek fest.

I do dig it!

Blanket that makes you look like you're cuddlng with Thor and Loki

Illustrator Pascalle Lepas created a design for a blanket that would make its user appear to be snuggling with Thor and Loki and had it custom printed. She's not sure if she'll sell them, but she certainly makes a compelling pitch for them in this photo!

This Loki & Thor Snuggle Blanket Puts You In The Middle Of A Norse God Sandwich

Confusing photo

Assuming this wasn't photoshopped, I'm still trying to figure out what's going on here. Is this a photo of three people? (Via Reddit)

Hand lettering the lyrics to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues"

A wonderful homage to Bob Dylan's card-flipping film for "Subterranean Homesick Blues," by artist Leandro Senna.

Great Graphic Novels: Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope

GreatgraphicnovelsLast month I asked my friends to write about books they loved (you can read all the essays here). This month, I invited them to write about their favorite graphic novels, and they selected some excellent titles. I hope you enjoy them! (Read all the Great Graphic Novel essays here.) -- Mark

Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope, by Emmanuel Guibert

NewImageAs far as World War II stories go, Cope’s story is far from spectacular. Wonderfully so.

Expect none of the heroics or ego associated with traditional combat tales. Instead, welcome a sit down chat with a friend who will, frankly and intimately, carry you along through a soldier's attempt to find meaningful friendships and rich experience while navigating a tedious, banal, and rootless military career.

I know that may sound dreadful, but it is not.

Despite the limitless digital access that I have to folks, ideas and inspiration I find myself yearning for the same things Cope longed for 60+ years ago -- little bits of beauty and a good friend or two to share them with. This book is both beautiful and friendly. After a day of being hit from a million directions for hours on end with stimulus, it is soothing to retire into a world where aside from the rare letter, a man lives in simple engagement with his immediate and tactile environment and with his thoughts.

The translation from French is highly conversational and Guibert’s technique of painting the page with water and allowing ink to bleed through the wet fibers result in illustrations that are loose yet elegant, cloudy and clear at the same time. Like memory.

Here’s a video of Guibert crafting a portrait of Alan Cope.

[Cory also reviewed this in 2008! -- Mark]

Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope

Tree dollhouse

Meg Allan Cole says: "Maddie Chambers created this amazingly detailed and beautiful tree dollhouse she dubbed Mad’s Mouse House and it is something to see. It even has electricity and a teeny tiny Oriental rug."

Mad's Mouse House

Sneak peek at Preservation Hall Band live at Carnegie Hall album

Here's a hell of a way to start the weekend: a couple of outstanding tracks from the upcoming album St. Peter & 57th St, from the Preservation Hall Band, the very sound of New Orleans. The album was recorded live in Carnegie Hall, and ships on September 25th.

* It Ain't My Fault, featuring Yasiin Bey (a.k.a. Mos Def), Trombone Shorty, Allen Toussaint

* Careless Love, with a horn section that'll make you weep and a singer that'll make you wail.

St. Peter & 57th St.

Open source brick machine: the evolution

Tristan sez, "Open Source Ecology is a social enterprise based in Missouri. We develop open source machines that can be made for a fraction of commercial costs, and share our designs on the Internet for free. We've just designed version 4.0 of our compressed earth brick press, the Liberator. With this machine, anyone can make solid, 'dirt cheap' structures from the earth beneath their feet. This linked video shows the evolution of the CEB press from 2007-2012."

The CEB Story 2012 (Thanks, Tristan)

In case you need to be impressed today, here is the cast of Les Misérables performing all their musical numbers live

You might be a cynic when it comes to movies adapted from Broadway musicals, and that's fine. They're not for everyone. But no matter what you might think of Les Misérables or its cast -- Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, among others -- you will undoubtedly be impressed by the approach taken by director Tom Hooper and the other filmmakers. Because they had their cast perform all the songs from the musical tragedy live on set, as opposed to being pre-recorded in a booth and then cleaned up later for a lip-sync on-set. It brought the actors to a different emotional place than a lip-sync ever could. (For example, let's just give Anne Hathaway her Oscar now.) But mostly, it makes this musical make sense.

Go ahead -- let this extended preview of Les Misérables shake your Grinchy core. You might need this today.

(via YouTube -- Thanks, Jess!)

Incredible lava lake video

Filmmaker Geoff Mackley captured this insanely hot footage of Marum Volcano on Ambrym Island, Vanuatu. Check out the incredible photos on Mackley's site too. (via Dave Pell's NextDraft)

Art textbook with no art: school trying to fix it

Earlier this week, I wrote about a custom textbook for a course in art history from prehistory to 1800 that had been assigned to students at the Ontario College of Art and Design at a price of $180, which was to be delivered without any artwork in it, thanks to a dispute over copyright clearances.

After an uproar from students and parents, the school met with students and is revisiting its decision to publish and require this book. Sarah Mulholland from OCAD writes that "Dean Shailer has sent an update letter to students this morning with some very good news as a result of her meeting with the publisher yesterday afternoon, which followed the student forum discussion."

The dean's letter is on the school's website (PDF). Here's an excerpt:

I met later in the afternoon with reps from Pearson – including the President of the Higher Education Division of Pearson Canada, Steve O’Hearn – and from the U of T/OCADU Bookstore, as well as a number of other OCAD U faculty and staff. We laid out the concerns and asked for solutions. Pearson was highly responsive and proposed offering:

• Guaranteed end-of-term buy-back of the custom text (dollar amount to be announced next week); they want to take it out of circulation.

• Provision (free) of print copies of the Stokstad text (which contains the vast majority of missing images) to all students who have purchased the reader, to use as a print-based cross-reference; these would be the relevant volumes of the portable version of Stokstad (much easier to carry) – details on how this will roll out next week.

For next semester (LBST 1B05), we will have two possible scenarios that we’d like to poll students on. In any case there will be NO EMPTY BLOCKS OF WHITE SPACE. And for future offerings (next year and beyond): we will wait until March and further feedback from all of you before making any decisions. We’d like to present all this to interested students as soon as possible and are scheduling a second meeting for next Tuesday afternoon. If you cannot attend, please get in touch and let me know your thoughts.

Here's the notice of the followup meeting.

(Thanks, Sarah!)

Helen Mirren will continue in her role as "backup Queen" in The Audience

Helen Mirren will play all the queens, all the time! The only actress to ever play both Queen Elizabeths on screen will play the younger version once again for The Audience, a play written by Peter Morgan, screenwriter of The Queen. She won an Oscar for playing Queen Elizabeth II in that, and appeared alongside Michael Sheen, who had himself reprised his role as Tony Blair (having first played him on television). For her next trick, Helen Mirren will play a future version of Kate Middleton, and she will not leave out the naughty bits. (via Vulture)

Kickstarting a book of homemade D&D modules from the 1980s

Plagmada -- the Play Generated Map and Document Archive -- is kickstarting a book of homebrew D&D modules made by game-geeks in their misspent youth. The lead title is the remarkable The Habitition of the Stone Giant Lord, created by 13-year-old Gaius Stern in 1981. The book will contain other homebrew adventures, and is seeking your contributions, which you can email to, for inclusion in the book, which will be called "The Habitition of the Stone Giant Lord and Other Adventures from Our Collective Youth."

The Habitition of the Stone Giant Lord & Other Adventures (Thanks, Tim!)

Bus cab converted into office


A fellow in Hungary converted the front of a salvaged bus into a fantastic workspace "cubicle." Reminds me a bit of the VW Westfalias converted into an office at IDEO's Palo Alto headquarters and a conference room at TuneUp Media. "A Scrapped Bus Cab Turned into Awesome Working Place" (woohome)

The Emmys are this Sunday night, get ready for a live-Tweeting extravaganza!

Boing Boing is covering the Primetime Emmys this year! This Sunday night, starting at 7:00 PM EST (4:00 PM Pacific), I will be taking over the Boing Boing Twitter account to live-tweet the Emmys. While I am not good making predictions, I am really great at telling people about things right after they actually happen! I will definitely tell you how great Jon Hamm would look in Christina Hendricks' dress, though. (Answer: probably pretty great.) So, consider yourself warned! This is happening on Twitter on Sunday! You can watch the telecast on ABC, and it will probably last anywhere from three hours to three days. Visit the official site to see who's nominated!

Authors of study linking GM corn with rat tumors manipulated media to prevent criticism of their work

Earlier today, I posted on the recent paper that claims to have found a link between eating genetically modified corn and the growth of tumors in rats. Short version: The research sucked. It's a terribly done study and it demonstrates why "peer reviewed" does not always mean "accurate".

But now, this story is getting worse. Turns out, the authors of the study (and their financial sponsor, The Sustainable Food Trust) manipulated the media to ensure that the first news stories published about the study would not be critical of its methods or results.

First, some background. When a journal is about to publish a study that they think will be big news, they usually offer the full study to reporters under an embargo system. The reporter gets to read the study, do their reporting, and write a story ... but they can't publish that story until a specific day at a specific time. If you're a daily or an online publication, there's a lot of pressure to have your story ready to go the moment the embargo lifts. Otherwise, you'll look like you weren't on the ball. There's a lot of problems with this system, but it's very common.

What's not common: Forcing journalists to sign non-disclosure agreements promising to not show the study they're reporting on to any independent researchers or outside experts. If you're trying to make sure your publication runs a story on the study right when the embargo lifts, but you can't show the study to any third-party experts before the embargo lifts, then the story you run is going to (inevitably) contain only information the authors of the study want you to talk about. It ceases being journalism and becomes PR.

This is what the authors of the GM corn/rat tumor study did.

Read the rest

Oldest recorded message in a bottle


Dropped into the Atlantic Ocean's North Sea on June 10, 1914, this is the oldest message in a bottle ever found. A fellow plucked it from the sea last year. The bottle was part of a study of ocean currents conducted by the Glasgow School of Navigation nearly a century ago. From National Geographic:

NewImageAccording to (Marine Scotland Science's Bill) Turrell, Leaper's discovery -- plucked just 9 miles (15 kilometers) from where (Captain C. Hunter) Brown released it -- is the 315th bottle recovered from that experiment. Each one, Turrell explained, was "specially weighted to bob along the seabed," hopefully to be scooped up by a trawler or to eventually wash up on shore.

Turrell's Aberdeen-based government agency still keeps and updates Captain Brown's log. Oddly enough, the previous record—a message in a bottle dating to 1917—was set in 2006 by Mark Anderson, a friend of Leaper's who was sailing the same ship, the Copious. "It was an amazing coincidence," Leaper said in a statement. "It's like winning the lottery twice."

"Oldest Message in Bottle"

Mug appears to be stuck in table

Treasuremmm The Treasure Mug is a delightful illusion cup available directly from Japan via Plywood or Amazon JP. (via Spoon & Tamago)

A discussion about the history of technology and the future of energy

On Wednesday, I spoke with MIT professor of science writing Tom Levenson, as he interviewed me for the Virtually Speaking Science podcast. We had a really interesting discussion, centered on the history of technology and the question of how we end up choosing one type of tool over another. You can listen to the full thing online.

Lunch on a skyscraper: The history of a famous photograph

This is the original glass-plate negative of the iconic photo of construction workers eating lunch on a girder during the construction of Rockefeller Center's RCA building in 1932.

Today, those of us who remember using analog cameras remember taking photographs on film — literally a plastic (or, earlier, paper or celluloid) strip covered with a film of light-sensitive chemicals. But once upon a time, when you took a photograph, you took it on a piece of glass. The glass could be as small as 3 inches by 5 inches, or as big as 11" x 17". Originally, each piece of glass had to be dipped into an emulsion of chemicals on site, and the photograph taken before the chemicals had dried — a time on the order of minutes. That meant that, wherever photographers went, they had to carry an entire darkroom with them.

George Eastman is credited with inventing film in 1884, but the type of glass negative you see above was an important in-between step, linking the cumbersome wet-plate process and the infinitely more convenient world of film. Instead of a bath of chemicals, it used a gelatin — with chemicals suspended inside like the bits of pear in a jell-o salad. Gelatin glass plates didn't need a portable darkroom. And they could capture an incredible level of detail. According to the Dayton History Center, you can read the writing on tiny signs in the background of some of these shots.

The downside: Taking a photo with these plates required exposure times that would seem incredibly long to us today. For instance, a basic film photographer just working with a point and shoot camera might use a film speed of 400 ISO. According to an artist working with glass plate photography today, that process produces an equivalent "film speed" of about 1/2 an ISO — two whole seconds to get an exposure on a nice, sunny day outdoors. That doesn't sound long, but it can be an eternity if you're trying to capture a spontaneous moment, like one guy lighting another's cigarette.

This is part of why we know that the famous photo of construction workers on a girder was actually a staged shot. That ... and the fact that there are other much-more-clearly staged shots from the same sequence of photos. At the New York Times Lens blog, you can see those photographs, and learn more about the history of an iconic New York scene.

Dubstep power tools

MysterGuitarMan's excellent "Dubstep Power Tools" video, a promo for a home improvement shopping site.

Burger King breaches McDonald's

On Monday, the Burger King burst into a McDonald's restaurant in Rome, Georgia, handed out free hamburgers to customers, danced, and posted for photos with children. Managers called the police, but the Burger King escaped in a white Acura before the fuzz arrived. "Man dressed as Burger King visits West Rome McDonald’s"

Of GM corn and rat tumors: Why peer reviewed doesn't mean "accurate"

UPDATE: After you read this story, make sure you check out the follow up piece. Editors at Embargo Watch have found evidence that The Sustainable Food Trust manipulated the media to prevent public criticism of this paper.

Yesterday, in an aside to a post criticizing an astroturf political campaign in California, Mark mentioned a new study that supposedly found GM corn causes tumors in rats. As Mark said in an update to that post, this study is severely flawed, but I wanted to follow-up on that with some discussion about why it's flawed.

After all, the study was peer-reviewed, right? Doesn't that mean we can trust it?

Here's the thing. Peer review is not perfect. It's not a panacea. It's simply the basic level of due diligence. By submitting work for peer review, a scientist has allowed people outside her own team to critique her work. And the journal might require some changes to the paper based on the critique — anything from edits for clarity to requesting that the scientist perform another experiment in a different way. If a paper hasn't gone through peer review, you should be more skeptical of it. Avoiding peer review means that the researcher decided to show the public her results before allowing those results to be critiqued by independent experts.

But, at the same time, just because something has gone through peer review doesn't mean it's been certified to be accurate. It just means that roughly three other experts have looked at the paper before publication. There's still a lot of room for things to go wrong. Peer review is like the bouncer at the door. The bouncer doesn't guarantee that every person in the bar would be a good person for you to date. Even if a paper gets through, you still have to think about it critically and evaluate it on its own merits. This recent paper on GM corn and rat tumors is an excellent example of that ...

Read the rest

Imagineers visit with Maker Camp

Maker Camp teens got a kick-ass treat: a one-hour Google+ hangout with Disney Imagineering, which has been released to YouTube. Here's The Disney Blog's John Frost:

Maker Camp is a month-long virtual DIY camp put on by Maker Faire. Hundreds of teens participate and learn about science, technology, engineering, and math and how to put them together to make useful things. These lucky kids recent got a virtual field trip that included a tour of Walt Disney Imagineering’s facilities and time with Imagineers like Bruce Vaughn.

During the tour students and other viewers got a glimpse at some of the unique and innovative processes Imagineers use during the design phase of their projects. The fields of dimensional design (model-making, sculpting and rapid-prototyping), robotics design and programming, ride design, and previsualization (virtual experiences of yet-to-be-built attractions and facilities) were the main focus. At the end of the tour students were able to ask Bruce and other Imagineers a few questions.

Walt Disney Imagineering participates in Google+ Hangout with Maker Camp

Sponsor Shout-Out

Our thanks to Watchismo, sponsors of our daily email update.

The Alessi Grow Watch is a cool new timepiece designed by Andrea Morgante of Shiro Studio and now available at Watchismo! The watch concept is derived from the 'act of growing', which often results in natural forms and patterns we instinctively relate to. The surface of the design features a rippled texture akin to muscle fiber; perceived as a single entity rather than an assembly of multiple mechanical parts, 'grow' is designed to be an external manifestation of our bodies' qualities.

MD Anderson launches $3 billion "Cancer Moon Shot" program on anniversary of JFK "moon shot" speech

MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas is today launching the Moon Shots Program, "an unprecedented effort to dramatically accelerate the pace of converting scientific discoveries into clinical advances that reduce cancer deaths." The program is backed by billions of dollars in funding, and there is some controversy around the money and the science. The program will initially target eight cancers, and will bring together sizable multidisciplinary groups of MD Anderson researchers and clinicians to mount comprehensive attacks on acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplastic syndrome; chronic lymphocytic leukemia; melanoma; lung cancer; prostate cancer, and triple-negative breast and ovarian cancers - two cancers linked at the molecular level.