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Nina Paley's history of the Holy Land: "This Land Is Mine"

Nina Paley's new "potential-possible-maybe-feature film" project is Seder-Masochism, and she's posted a clip called "This Land Is Mine," which she envisions as the final scene of the movie. "This Land Is Mine" is a history of the Holy Land and all the blood spilled over the years by various parties who laid claim to it. Her web page for the short features a full cast of characters, with historical notes, and, of course, the wonderful video itself.

Download the Little Brother audiobook

Thanks to the kind folks at Random House Audio, I'm now able to offer direct downloads of the unabridged audiobook of Little Brother, read by Kirby Heyborne. The download is DRM-free, and comes with no EULA -- in other words, the only terms binding your use of it are: "Don't violate copyright law." It's $20, cheap!

Little Brother Audiobook

Congress: The DHS's "fusion centers" full of bad intelligence, lies, and imaginary buildings

A bipartisan report on the DHS's much-vaunted, scorchingly expensive "fusion centers" that were supposed to be the future of American security. The Congressional investigators who wrote the report don't mince words, and accuse the DHS of uncontrolled spending, poor, false and even lying intelligence reporting, illegal intelligence gathering, and even making up four imaginary fusion centers that were never built, but were reported to Congress as open for business and bustling with activity. (via Techdirt)

Meaningful appeals for accused YouTube uploaders

After years of video creators being caught in Kafkaesque support-loops from Google, the company has finally introduced a meaningful appeals process to copyright complaints for YouTube videos. Though, as Timothy Lee points on at Ars, the new process still has plenty of room for abuse.

E. Horton Kinsman, Shoe Consultant

Share stories of your experiences with E. Horton Kinsman, Shoe Consultant, in the comments. (Via Drew Friedman)

Replica vintage sports jerseys made out of new-old vintage fabric

Ebbets Field Flannels makes replicas of vintage baseball jerseys from various leagues (including Cuban and Japanese jerseys), using new-old vintage textiles for their projects. They also do hockey jerseys, hats, and other replicas of bygone-era sportswear.

The Stanley Cup used to be an open tournament which included non-NHL teams. In 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans of the PCHA became the first U.S. team to win the cup when they defeated the Montreal Canadiens three games to one. Several different versions of this barber-pole striped sweater were worn through the years.

Ebbets Field Flannels (via Kottke)

The new trailer for Movie 43 is very, very funny and not-at-all SFW

(Video link) A rather off-the-wall trailer for the upcoming anthology flick Movie 43 -- which stars every single person in Hollywood and is directed by everyone else who showed up late the day it was cast (except for Elizabeth Banks, who directs and stars) -- was unleashed on the internet today. Made in the vein of Kentucky Fried Movie and, as Entertainment Weekly observes, Robot Chicken, Movie 43 took four years to make and looks bonkers! Whether or not that's a good thing, well, I'll reserve my judgement until I actually see it when it opens in April. Once again, this preview is NSFW. (via Entertainment Weekly)

Theatre Bizarre: Stupendous yearly Halloween ball in Detroit

The coolest thing that I saw at the Detroit Maker Faire in 2011 was John Dunivant's Theatre Bizarre. John (right) is an immensely talented artist who creates stages, costumes, artwork, carnival attractions, signs, and everything else that goes into an amazing yearly Halloween show held at the abandoned Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit. I was blown away by John's sideshow culture creations (see my photos here), and when I talked to John, I was impressed by his deep knowledge of monster artists, such as Basil Gogos, whose work is an inspiration. It costs about $250,000 to produce this one-night event, and if you anywhere near Detroit, I highly recommend attending. Here are the details:

John Dunivant, the man behind Theatre Bizarre -- the legendary underground Halloween masquerade -- will once again hold Detroit’s most elite partygoers in his thrall using the seductive force of his latest creation -- The Summoning.

For the first decade of the 21st century, Theatre Bizarre broke the laws of man and nature. On one night each year, a dark carnival came to life in the shadow of the now abandoned Michigan State Fairgrounds in one of the Motor City’s most dangerous neighborhoods. The lucky few who were able to get tickets for the annual event were treated to a show unlike any other, at a place that could only exist in a city that has better things to do than enforce zoning laws. Complete with ferris wheel, a roller coaster and a half-dozen stages, Theatre Bizarre was an immersive, decadent, pyrotechnic marvel until it became too large for even Detroit to ignore. In 2010 it was shut down. Thousands of diehard fans and true believers mourned.

In 2011, Dunivant and his crew (most of whom are volunteers) introduced the world to their new home and their new direction. The Initiation was held in late October at Detroit’s Masonic Temple -- the largest temple of its kind in the world. The venue’s confounding architecture and shadowy history dovetailed perfectly with Dunivant’s new vision.

“There’s a secret society,” explained Dunivant. “Templum Balatro. The Temple of the Fool. We celebrate decay -- the decay of society, of moral fiber, of the flesh. We don’t whistle past the graveyard. We dance in it.”

The sprawling temple played host to hundreds of music acts, sideshow performers, burlesque dancers, dominatrixes, suspension artists and the onstage branding of volunteers from an eager pool of thrill-seeking attendees. In cloaks and masks, the crowd reveled in the shameless, sweaty decadence of unfettered indulgence. Last year, the revelers were initiated. This year, they are summoned.

The Summoning will be held on October 20, 2012 at The Masonic Temple at 500 Temple Street in downtown Detroit. The doors open at 7pm. Included in the featured acts will be Miss Exotic World of 2010, Miss Roxi DLite. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. All attendees must be 21 years of age or older. Costumes are mandatory. Tickets will be available for $65 each beginning Saturday, September 15 at the DIY Street Fair in Ferndale. Details about online and retail sales of tickets are available at

See more photos

A cool way to turn a window into a door

Last weekend, I visited St. Louis and got to catch up with some friends who live in an old brick house in that city's South Grand/Tower Grove neighborhood. (Which is awesome, by the way. After hearing nothing but bad news about St. Louis for years, I was pleasantly surprised by great, thriving neighborhoods like this one.)

There's a little porch off one of the upstairs windows, facing the street. But, at first, it's not entirely clear how you get out onto it. But, whoever built this old house had a clever trick up their sleeve — and it's one I'd never seen in action before. That's a picture of the closed window above.

Read the rest

The science of debate strategy

In preparation for tonight's American presidential debate, please enjoy this Science Friday piece on the social psychology involved in successfully dodging a question. How do politicians slip into answering the questions they want to answer, instead of the ones you asked? What can you do to be more aware when this is happening?

Skateboarder runs into deer

During last weekend's Buffalo Bill Downhill race in Golden, Colorado, a skateboarder hit a deer crossing the road. I hope the deer is OK. (7News, thanks Gabe Adiv!)

Wingnut fantasy: Obama’s mom was a porn star, dad was communist poet From Digital Journal:

A scandalous DVD claiming that President Barack Obama's mother posed for pornographic photos and that his real father was a communist poet who indoctrinated young Barack with Marxism is reportedly being mailed to more than a million swing-state voters.

The video, a pseudo-documentary produced by right-wing filmmaker Joel Gilbert, is titled "Dreams From My Real Father." According to MailOnline, Gilbert claims that more than a million copies of the salacious -- and fallacious -- video have been mailed to voters in Ohio, Nevada and New Hampshire, with as many as three million additional copies to be mailed in the near future.

The weird, black, spidery things of Mars

See those weird, black, spidery things dotting the dunes in this colorized photo taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2010? Yeah. Nobody knows what the hell those things are.

What we do know about them just underlines how incredibly unfamiliar Mars really is to us. First spotted by humans in 1998, these splotches pop up every Martian spring, and disappear in winter. Usually, they appear in the same places as the previous year, and they tend to congregate on the sunny sides of sand dunes — all but shunning flat ground. There's nothing on Earth that looks like this that we can compare them to. It's a for real-real mystery, writes Robert Krulwich at NPR. But there are theories:

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, from Hungary, from the European Space Agency have all proposed explanations; the leading one is so weird, it's transformed my idea of what it's like to be on Mars. For 20 years, I've thought the planet to be magnificently desolate, a dead zone, painted rouge. But imagine this: Every spring, the sun beats down on a southern region of Mars, morning light melts the surface, warms up the ground below, and a thin, underground layer of frozen CO2 turns suddenly into a roaring gas, expands, and carrying rock and ice, rushes up through breaks in the rock, exploding into the Martian air. Geysers shoot up in odd places. It feels random, like being surprise attacked by an monstrous, underground fountain.

"If you were there," says Phil Christensen of Arizona State University, "you'd be standing on a slab of carbon dioxide ice. All around you, roaring jets of carbon dioxide gas are throwing sand and dust a couple hundred feet into the air." The ground below would be rumbling. You'd feel it in your spaceboots.

Read the rest of Robert Krulwich's post — and check out some spectacular photos of the things — at NPR

RiffTrax is bringing Birdemic: Shock and Terror to theaters for festive October soul-hurt (and jokes)!

There are colossally bad movies, and then there is Birdemic: Shock and Terror. Written, directed, and produced (all badly) by James Nguyen, this movie is one of the more delightful disasters you'll come across in your lifetime. It follows the sweeping, environmental romance between two people who are barely trying to act at all, and then eventually, there are some exploding birds. So, what could possibly make someone volunteer to watch this? Answer: Hilarious live commentary straight from the minds of RiffTrax -- Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, and Michael J. Nelson! RiffTrax Live: Birdemic will come to a theater near you on October 25, and the whole crew was kind enough to answer some questions, including why they have decided to impose this thing upon us all.

Read the rest

Start saving now!

It would cost $384 million to launch my 1500-square-foot house into space. Theoretically. Based on estimated weight of the house. But the point is, there's an app that can show you how much it would cost to launch your house into space. What you do with it once it's up there remains anybody's guess.

Why some technologies fail, and others succeed

My second column for the New York Times Magazine went online today. It's about the history of technology and the forces that determine which tools end up in our everyday portfolio and which become fodder for alternate history sci-fi novels.

The key thing to remember: The technologies we use today aren't necessarily the best technologies that were available. We don't really make these decisions logically, based solely on what works best. It's more complicated than that. Technology is shaped sociocultural forces. And, in turn, it shapes them, as well. The best analogy I've come up with to summarize this: The history of technology isn't a straight line. It's more like a ball of snakes fucking. (Sadly, I couldn't figure out a good way to reword this analogy for publication in the Paper of Record.) One of my big examples is the history of the electric car:

There are plenty of reasons Americans should have adopted electric cars long ago. Early E.V.’s were easier to learn to drive than their gas cousins, and they were far cleaner and better smelling. Their battery range and speed were limited, but a vast majority of the trips we take in our cars are short ones. Most of the driving we do has been well within the range of electric-car batteries for decades, says David Kirsch, associate professor of management at the University of Maryland and the author of “The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History.” We drive gas-powered cars today for a complex set of reasons, Kirsch says, but not because the internal-combustion engine is inherently better than the electric motor and battery.

Read the rest

Live-in replica of the Disneyland Haunted Mansion for sale

A Disney contractor is selling a seven bedroom, full-sized, live-in replica of the Disneyland Haunted Mansion that he built in Duluth, Georgia. Mark Hurt 1996 home was built to closely replicate the exterior of the LA Haunted Mansion, and includes an "animated bathroom Hitchhiking Ghost scene." He's asking $873,000. The sale is listed by Theme Park Connections, who specialize in super-rare theme-park merch and collectibles. From Attractions Magazine:

Hurt is selling the home because he has moved on to an even more ambitious project but hasn’t stopped designing and building unique Disney inspired buildings. Mark is working on his current project of a resort themed house modeled after Disney’s Grand Californian along with a replica of Walt Disney’s backyard barn and a pool that will be themed to the Jungle Cruise in Kaua‘i Hawaii. Hurt says that Walt Disney was the mentor that I had but never met.

The ultimate Haunted Mansion collectable? – Disneyland Haunted Mansion look-alike home for sale

Goodbye "Snowmageddon XIX", hello "Gandolf"

The Weather Channel has decided to begin naming winter storms the way we already name tropical storms. But while tropical storm nomenclature is an organized and official process, carried out by a branch of the United Nations, winter storms will be named apparently at the whim of The Weather Channel. The result: Not only can we move past calling every blizzard either Snowmageddon or Snowpocalypse, but we also get to hear news anchors discuss the damage caused by Winter Storm Gandolf. (Please note that this is Gandolf, not Gandalf. The former is a character in The Well at the World's End, an 1896 fantasy novel. The latter is probably tied up in intellectual property restrictions.)

In a neglected fossil: A vegetarian with bite

This is an artists' rendition of Pegomastax africanus, a 200-million-year-old dinosaur that is the subject of a new peer-reviewed research paper out this week in the journal ZooKeys.

It's a great face, and a fascinating species. Couple of things here that I think are worth highlighting:

First, despite the fang-y teeth Pegomastax africanus is sporting, the scientists who wrote the paper think this animal was actually a vegetarian. Or, at least, mostly a vegetarian. At, the researchers told journalist Charles Q. Choi that the dinosaur had a parrot-like beak, its fangs weren't positioned well for cutting through meat, and its back teeth look like the kind of chompers plant-eaters use to slice through leaves and roughage. All of which suggest Pegomastax africanus ate more seeds, nuts, and fruit than flank steak.

The other cool thing has to do with when Pegomastax africanus was found. While the paper describing the fossil was published online today, the fossil itself was pulled out of the ground in the 1960s. In fact, the paper's main author — paleontologist Paul C. Sereno — first noticed the neglected fossil in 1983, and only recently got around to examining it more closely. Think of it this way, a successful dig might come out with lots of potentially cool rocks and fossils. The fact is that there are often more artifacts than there is time for one team to closely work with all the artifacts. The researchers who did the digging will focus on the ones that are most interesting to them. The rest get catalogued. Maybe the original researchers come back to them; maybe they don't. Maybe somebody else picks up the catalogued fossils; maybe it takes 50 years for that happen. But what this reminds us is that there are cool things waiting to be discovered in storage ... not just in the ground.

Read the full paper, which puts Pegomastax africanus into context as a member of a family of dinosaurs called heterodontosaurids.

The Princess Bride writer William Goldman says he's been trying to write a sequel

Before you start worrying that some unworthy person is going to try writing a sequel to The Princess Bride, let it be known that the man who wrote the original, screenwriter William Goldman (who also wrote the original novel), has actually been trying to write one himself for years. What's stopping him? He's having trouble coming up with a good story. Last night at the New York Film Festival, Goldman made it sound like this has been floating around in his head for years:

“I’m desperate to make it and write it and I don’t know how... I would love to make it, more than anything else I’ve not written.”

It's reassuring that any story about a sequel to The Princess Bride is a story about Mr. Goldman and not some other writer preparing big-budget fan fiction that everyone will probably protest with fire and rage. Goldman, who also wrote the screenplays for All the President's Men and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, is the only person who is allowed to talk about writing a Princess Bride sequel as far as I'm concerned. Such a beloved and delicately crafted kingdom of characters should only come from its creator, at least in this case. So if the mood ever strikes Goldman and he does come up with a new adventure for Westley and Buttercup, I'm sure I'm not the only person who will think it was worth the wait.

One thing is for certain, though: Even a great sequel written by Goldman that will "bwing evewyone togethah" won't have Andre the Giant, Peter Cook, or Peter Falk in it. And that is a pretty big bummer.

Photo credit: The Princess Bride Official Site

‘Princess Bride’ sequel? Inconceivable! says writer William Goldman [Hero Complex]

iOS Maps debacle reimagined as surrealist art project

If Apple's iOS Maps disaster was actually avant-garde art… (Thanks, Dustin Hostetler!)

Glen Hansard sings for The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is collaborating with some excellent musicians and filmmakers to raise awareness of environmental issues. Boing Boing is pleased to premiere this video with Swell Season and The Frames' Glen Hansard, star of the film Once. You can also watch Hansard and Swell Season collaborator Markéta Irglová perform an acoustic set in this classic Boing Boing Video episode. The Nature Conservancy's All Hands Music

Exploding washing machines?

The rise of the machines has begun. Apparently, dozens of washing machines from numerous brands are "exploding" and UK consumer product watchdog magazine Which? is investigating. The typical story involves the glass door of the washing machines violently shattering, possibly caused by the drum splitting apart while the machine is on high spin. From The Telegraph:

Adrian Porter, Home Product Researcher at the watchdog said the problem first appeared 18 months ago but the number of cases had risen sharply in recent months.

The forum Whitegoodshelp has been collecting stories from those who say they have been affected…

Mr Porter said: "This hasn't happened to any washing machines during our lab tests, so we have been unable to observe it in laboratory conditions and follow up with a proper analysis. "But going through the accounts, there are theories ranging from hair cracks in the glass, or even that the glass is just thinner than it used to be. Still, nothing has been confirmed."

"Consumer watchdog investigates exploding washing machines"


Dining room table spontaneously "exploded"

Adrian Tomine on tour for his new book, New York Drawings

Adrian Tomine is on tour to promote New York Drawings, his anthology of New Yorker illustrations. He'll be in Providence, RI tonight, and Cambridge, MA tomorrow. Peggy Burns of Drawn & Quarterly, Adrian's publisher, says:

The Providence Phoenix spotlights Adriane event at AS 220 tonight, with Ada Books. And the Boston DIG interviews Adrian in a lengthy interview here.

Favorite tidbit from the interview...

CLAY FERNALD: Were you the first of your friends to get published and get attention for your work? Optic Nerve put you on the map as a young man.

ADRIAN TOMINE: You assume that I had friends! I actually started doing Optic Nerve in response to being an unlikeable teenage loner, so it wasn’t like I was part of some cartooning community then. And when I did eventually make some friends in the comics world, they were basically already seasoned veterans, so any little accomplishment I might’ve experienced wasn’t anything new to them.

The interview also included a link to a fan-made film based on on of Adriane's stories, "Smoke."

See the full tour schedule here

Geeks, Girls, and Super Identities - new kids' novel with great illustrations by Mike Maihack

I admire the work of illustrator and cartoonist Mike Maihack. His simple line art, subdued color palette, and quietly humorous illustrations remind me a bit of Seth, if Seth liked to draw female superheroes. I just found out Mike illustrated a kids' novel called Geeks, Girls, and Super Identities. Check out a few of his illustrations here.

Throughout last year I Illustrated a fantastic book by author Mike Jung titled Geeks, Girls, and Super Identities -- and that book is officially out this week! … The gist is this: superhero fanclub, giant robot, school-yard crush, evil plot, exciting twist, lots-of-action.

I illustrated the jacket and 40 or so interior illustrations for GG&SI, most of wich consisted of drawing said giant robot, a beefy superhero, a goonies-esque trio, and one punky young gap-toothed girl. Oh and pizza. I also drew a bunch of pizza. It was a great gig. I know I’m biased but I can’t recommend the book highly enough. It’s just super fun.

Geeks, Girls, and Super Identities

Music review: Common Eider, King Eider's "Sense of Place"


It's finally here, the years in the works "Sense of Place," an ambitious audio/visual document that captures San Francisco drone/ambient/folk band Common Eider, King Eider's quest to build a cabin in the wilds of Alaska. It's an incredible package including both a book and a dvd, each offering up images of the process, from the flight up, the journey to the site, to the actual construction, as well as the gorgeous landscape surrounding the cabin (or cabin to be). The dvd and the cd both contain part of the music, both of which are meant to be played simultaneously, Zaireeka style, the fusion of the two resulting in a lush soundscape of layered organ drones and haunting choral harmonies, the music on its own is moving and mysterious, but when coupled with the visuals, it's that much more powerful.

Read the rest

TOM THE DANCING BUG: Super-Fun-Pak Comix - Percival Dunwoody vs. Hitler, and MORE!!

Presenting another installment of Super-Fun-Pak Comix, featuring "Percival Dunwoody, Idiot Time Traveler From 1909," "Darthfield," "Mother-In-Law Guffaws," and much, much MORE.Read the rest

Monkey Jesus cosplayer

Here's a Monkey Jesus/restored icon cosplayer in full regalia. The identity of the person behind the mask is the source of controversy: it was posted to Reddit by OhioUPilot12, whose description implied that s/he was the creator of the costume. However, when Spinjump posted that this had been her/his Anime Weekend Atlanta costume, OhioUPilot12 backpedaled and claimed that the original description was an unfortunate misunderstanding.

Facebook God gave me a halloween costume idea... (

Todd Akin on the scourge of doctors giving abortions to non-pregnant women

[Video Link] Salon: Among “abortionists,” Akin said in a floor speech in 2008, “you find that along with the culture death go all kinds of other lawbreaking: the not following good sanitary procedure, giving abortions to women who aren’t actually pregnant, cheating on taxes, all these kinds of things.” Later in the video Akin accuses death culture doctors of killing imaginary unicorns.

Correlation, Causation and Internet Comments

Daniel Engber wrote a wonderful piece at Slate. Engber examines when you can hide behind the phrase correlation does not imply causation and when that may not be the best idea. "The correlation phrase has become so common and so irritating that a minor backlash has now ensued against the rhetoric if not the concept. No, correlation does not imply causation, but it sure as hell provides a hint." (thanks Rachel Scollon)