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Ancient spider never gets to finish dinner

This is a spider, which was encased in tree sap while in the act of attacking a wasp. The sap turned to amber, leaving an incredible preserved scene, with even individual strands of silk from the spider's web remaining unbroken for 100 million years.

The paper this is taken from (sits behind a paywall, unfortunately)

Learn more about the preservation of bugs in amber at the website for NOVA's "Jewell of the Earth" documentary

FBI questions man for taking a photo of a cloud

"You’re not a threat and you are doing a public service but just be careful next time,” FBI Agent David Pileggi to Michael Galindo, who took a photo of a thundercloud over an oil refinery near Houston, TX. (Via The Agitator)

Making Inaccessible Island a little more accessible

This is a detail from one of the regularly updated maps that researchers in Antarctica use when they want to leave McMurdo Station and travel across the continent's sea ice. It shows the well-traveled routes across McMurdo Sound, ice thickness measurements taken at various points along the road, and hazards like large cracks in the ice.

Towards the north end of the Sound, you can see an island labeled, "Inaccessible Island". I asked Henry Kaiser — a musician and filmmaker who has spent the last decade working with scientists on the frozen continent — about why that island was inaccessible. After all, I didn't see any major cracks or hazards around it. Seems like you could traverse the ice to the island just fine.

Turns out, I was misunderstanding. Inaccessible isn't a designation. Inaccessible is the island's official name. Even though it's not. Inaccessible, I mean. Named by Robert Scott, it's part of a chain of islands that all represent the remains of an ancient volcanic crater. The name apparently comes from the fact that Inaccessible Island is incredibly steep, so while you can reach it, getting onto the damn thing seems to be a lot harder.

Inaccessible Island in McMurdo Sound is not to be confused with the Inaccessible Island that is located in the south Atlantic about halfway between South America and Africa; nor with the Inaccessible Islands, an entire group of islands located between the tip of South America and tip of the Antarctic peninsula; nor with Inexpressible Island, an Antarctic island where part of Scott's crew on his second expedition was forced to spend the winter of 1912 living in a cave and eating penguins.

Read about Inaccessible Island (the one in McMurdo Sound) in the report of Robert Scott's first expedition to Antarctica, published in 1907.

New Yorker cover about Obama-Romney debate is funny

This week's New Yorker cover is clever! (Via Cover Junkie)

"Happiness Valley" song from "Toomorrow"

Nathan Rabin of the A.V. Club wrote a terrific essay about a terrible movie from 1970, called Toomorrow. "It’s the only film bold enough to cross-pollinate The Monkees with Santa Claus Conquers The Martians, then throw a young, psychotically smiley Olivia Newton-John and student activism into the mix."

Olivia Newton-John sings for aliens in Toomorrow

Ohio Supreme Court hears appeal from creationist teacher

John Freshwater used to be a science teacher at an Ohio school. His science lessons included promoting creationism and a "Christian view against homosexuality." As a bonus, Mr. Freshwater reportedly burned holy crosses on students' arms using a highly scientific Tesla coil.

Imagine his outrage when he was fired. Fortunately for Mr. Freshwater, the Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to hear his case.

Ohio Supreme Court hears appeal from creationist teacher

Gameplay video for upcoming edition of SimCity

The upcoming version of SimCity is beautiful. In this video, one of the producers builds a casino city, explaining why he makes certain choices in roads and other infrastructural elements. Every sim in the game has an agenda -- you can click on a character to find out what they are up to.

SimCity | Gameplay Strategy Video #1

Tobacco enemas for everyone!

Out of the depths of historic woo rises the ancient and leathery tobacco enema kit. Gaze with horror. Gaze!

Made by Evans & Co of London, this apparatus was used to revive people who were ‘apparently dead’, by making use of tobacco’s stimulant qualities. The bellows were used to blow tobacco smoke up the rectum (or into the lungs) … Tobacco enemas were popular from the 17th to the early 19th century. [Source]

Tobacco Enema Kit, 1774 (via Richard Kadrey)

Zee Avi, skewered on an angelic voice

I'm not entirely certain where I first encountered Zee Avi. All I know is that I've got a couple of Avi tracks in my "shuffle top-rated MP3s" playlist, and when they come on, they skewer me with her beautiful voice, like a young Peggy Lee by way of Bjork. Today, "No Christmas For Me" shuffled into my headphones and I sat transfixed by that angelic voice. It literally froze me where I sat. I'm on the road in the USA, which makes it basically impossible to buy downloadable music (Amazon UK's webstore won't sell MP3s to people with US IP addresses; Amazon US's MP3 store won't sell to people with UK credit-cards), but I found a handful of her MP3s from various song-of-the-day promo releases, and one of those was Swell Window, which I have since played twenty times in a row and am falling ever more deeply in love with.

Ms Avi, who hails from Malaysia, sells her CDs direct on her website, along with some rather lovely original artwork. She also has a deep and glorious YouTube channel (her career was launched when one of her YouTube uploads gained popularity). And if you're not caught in an Amazonian overseas travel payment snafu like me, you can buy her MP3s, too.

Aphex Twin: "I Care Because You Do" music review


The mad-scientist of electronica - Richard D James aka Aphex Twin - originally released I Care Because You Do in 1995; and now in 2012, that classic electronica album gets a double-lp reissue by way of the 1972 label, who also recently reissued Aphex's Selected Ambient Works Vol. Two on triple lp.

Read the rest

Sponsor Shout-Out: Watchimso

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

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Cory in Lansing, MI today

Hey, Lansing, MI! I'm headed your way today for a signing at Schuler Books & Music at 6PM, as part of my Pirate Cinema tour, which then moves on to Chicagoland, NYC, Philadelphia, Bethesda, and many other cities in the USA and Canada. I can't wait to see you -- come on out and let your happy mutant flag fly! Here's the full schedule. Tell your friends!

Elfquest: a bit of life

Page 5 of The Final Quest: Prologue is published online-first for the first time here at Boing Boing. First time reader? You're a few issues behind.Read the rest

The music of the primes

Little-scale offers music procedurally-generated from prime numbers. A "full version", available for download, is 26 hours long. [Little-Scale]

Survey: 60% want web tracking regulated

The New York Times offers a blunt reminder for tech companies which claim defaulting to "Do Not Track" deprives users of the right to make the "decision" for themselves: users do not want to be tracked. According to one new survey, a majority now wants it banned outright: "Sixty percent said they prefer regulation to 'prevent Web sites from collecting information' about them."

Fake cop demands food

Floridan Joseph Pineda, 33, wanted a burger but was unable to pay for his order. So he pretended to be an officer of the law, flashing a gun and badge in an attempt to get his meal free of charge. [FloriDUH]

Judge performs jury duty

Judge Linda Fleming happily reported for jury duty Thursday, but was soon struck off the panel by either the defense or prosecution: "I’m not supprised I didn’t get selected." [The Tribune-Democrat]

Supergod: Warren Ellis's horrific arms-race endtimes

Warren Ellis and Garrie Gastonny's Supergod is a magnificently grim and horrifying superhero comic, in which a British government scientist narrates the sequence of events that killed the planet Earth, in whose rubble he sits. Supergod is the story of a secret arms-race, in which the major powers of the world all conspired to produce superhuman, godlike beings who were meant to act as their national saviors. Instead, each of these gods becomes a force of ineffable and unstoppable terror, killing and laying waste in unfathomable acts of horrific violence.

The story is pure Ellis. It's both cynical and charming, and pushes out a vision of end-times that goes further over the weirdness frontier than anyone has any right to go. The supergods here are grotesque monsters who are nevertheless lovely and even sometimes sweet (for example, the three British astronauts who are sent into space to be mutated into a godlike state return as a composite fungal hybrid being called Morrigan Lugas, whose spores cause the scientists around it to worship it like a god while masturbating uncontrollably).

Warren Ellis is a strong tonic, and he burns going down, and it's hard to get a good night's sleep if you consume too much before bed, but the burning is a good one, and even a necessary one.


Guilded ilded Youth, a quick interactive fiction

Guilded Youth is a green-on-black text adventure from Jim Munroe and Matt Hamill. Writes Brandon Boyer: "one of the most evocative portrayals of our collective disaffected BBS-enhanced adolescence I’ve experienced in a game, effortlessly giving surprisingly rounded life to characters you only know briefly."