Boing Boing 

Knuckles that promote literacy

Spotted today at a Toronto restaurant: a great, pro-literacy set of knuckle-tatts.

READ MORE knuckles, Fresh, Crawford Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Man cultivates healthy lifestyle to be more like his avatar

NewImage Marcus Dickinson, 40, was very overweight and unhealthy when he created his EVE Online character Roc Wieler, the tough guy seen above left. Eventually, Dickinson became so inspired by Roc that he hit the gym to be more like him. Above right is Dickinson now. "I'm a role player inherently," Dickinson says. "I take it seriously." Virtual reality: Avatar inspires gamer to hit the gym (CNN)

Two brilliant SF YA novels now in paperback

Great news: two of my favorite young adult novels of recent years are now in paperback. First is Steven Gould's 7th Sigma, a spectacular science fiction/western mashup set in the southwest after a mysterious alien invasion makes it impossible to use metal anywhere in the desert. Next is Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker, a brilliant post-peak-oil eco-catastrophe dystopia that matches 7th Sigma for incredible, voracious, unstoppable plotting.

Slow animated GIF

WFMU RadioVision festival last weekend in New York City. It was a thrill to meet station manager Ken Freedman after all these years, too. During his talk, Ken displayed a photo of Keir Dullea in his space helmet from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I thought it was a static image, but once every 90 seconds or something happens. It was fun seeing people in the audience do a double take when they noticed it.

Zombie lord carved from pumpkin

Ray Villafane carved this pumpkin lord at the New York Botanical Gardens's Haunted Pumpkin Garden, where it was captured on still and video. It's quite a sight!

(Image: ZombieLordOMGLookAtThisFace!, by redwingx, used with permission)

(via Neatorama)

Photos from Disney Television Animation's fall art gallery

Here are photos from Disney Television Animation's fall art gallery, themed "Some Kind of Monster," spotlighting submissions from its pool of talented creative artists, executives and staff who create shows like Gravity Falls, which is a favorite around our house.

Read the rest

Starlog Magazine: Crazy movie rumors before the Internet

Mike Ryan has a fun article about Starlog magazine in The Huffington Post.

"Starlog" was a glorious publication. In the mid-1980s, at a small-town newsstand in mid-Missouri, I had my first experience with "Starlog." This particular newsstand often carried back issues of comic books (most often "The Flash," for whatever reason), but one day I discovered a box full of "Starlog" magazines from the late '70s and early '80s that were practically being given away. Darth Vader himself was on one of the covers; I just had to own these.

Ryan spent the day at the library going through Starlog magazine and pulled some choice tidbits:

April 1979: As for why Chewbacca doesn't receive a medal at the end of "Star Wars," this is as good of an explanation as any other.

I think the reason the wook [sic] didn't get a medal was because Princess Leia simply isn't that tall. He could have received his after the ceremony.

April 1979: In an interview with Mark Hamill, he gives us an early view of the grumpy Harrison Ford we would all come to love. (Of course, it's hard to blame Ford in this situation.)

The problem was that we had been booked on a Sunday morning financial show. This guy was only interested in how the picture affected 20th Century Fox's stock, and to him we were just three dumbbell actors who got a lucky break. He finished up by saying, "I don't want to put you on edge or anything, but let me sum up by saying that it's certainly not Ingmar Bergman." I looked over at Harrison, and I could see the veins on his neck popping out.

June 1979: Author Harlan Ellison is not a fan of Mark Hamill.

Mr. Hamill's confusion about my attitude toward the little film in which he appeared is touching. Equally touching is his understanding of the unimportance of his opinions; would that have more of us had the sense and nobility to perceive our limitations. Since Mr, Hamill is, by his own admission, one who does not read books, I take it as a gesture of magnanimity not to further ridicule him: As a functional illiterate, Mr. Hamill does a good enough job on himself.

'Starlog' Magazine: Crazy Movie Rumors Before The Internet

Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide

Here are some examples of projects from the Unofficial Lego Technic Builder's Guide. I'm surprised by the complexity of the vehicles and robots that you can build with these components. (And how could anyone resist the far-out soundtrack that accompanies the trailer?)

The infrastructure of longevity — a systems-level perspective of living to 100

I really enjoyed reading a recent story in The New York Times Magazine about attempts to understand extreme longevity — the weird tendency for certain populations to have larger-than-average numbers of people who live well into their 90s, if not 100s.

Written by Dan Buettner, the piece focuses on the Greek island of Ikaria, and, in many ways, it's a lot like a lot of the other stories I've read on this subject. From a scientific perspective, we don't really understand why some people live longer than others. And we definitely don't understand why some populations have more people who live longer. There are lots of theories. Conveniently, they tend to coincide with our own biases about what we currently think is most wrong with our own society. So articles about extremely long-lived populations tend to offer a lot of inspiring stories, some funny quotes from really old people, and not a lot in the way of answers.

Buettner's story has all those elements, but it also proposes some ideas that were, for me, really thought provoking. After spending much of the article discussing the Ikarian's diet (it's low in meat and sugar, high in antioxidants, and includes lots of locally produced food and wine) and their laid-back, low-stress way of life, Buettner doesn't suggest that we'll all live to be 100 if we just, individually, try to live exactly like the Ikarians do. In fact, he points out that other communities of long-lived individuals actually live differently — Californian Seventh-Day Adventists, for instance, eat no meat at all and don't drink, and they live with the normal stresses of everyday American life.

What these groups do have in common, though, is a strong social infrastructure that ties people to each other emotionally and connects individual choices to a bigger community lifestyle.

Read the rest

Sponsor shout-out: ShanaLogic and cephalopod wine/bar accessories

Shananaa Special thanks to our lovely sponsor ShanaLogic, sellers of handmade and independently-designed jewelry, apparel, gifts, and other curious creations. The shop's inventory of Dellamorte's cephalopod wine/bar products has expanded with the stately Octopus Bottle Opener. Also still available are the popular Squid Corkscrew and Tentacle Wine Stopper. All of the pieces are cast resin with stainless steel. Shana says, "Free domestic shipping for orders over $50!" ShanaLogic

This year's hottest fashion item is a CSS style sheet

Heath says:

The latest episode of PBS Digital Studios’ weekly Web series ‘Idea Channel’, from producers Kornhaber Brown, posits that Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) in Web design actually share quite a bit in common with high fashion.

The fashion world has long told us that the outfit makes the person. Surprisingly, a similar comparison can be drawn with CSS and websites. Sure, websites, at heart, are just a bunch of coded lines, but a stylesheet on top of all that raw code helps it to become something so much more – fluid, engaging, artistic – and to transcend simple functionality; really, everything that fashion does for creative and image-conscious people.

MAKE Vol 32 is here!

The new issue of MAKE magazine has hit the stands! Volume 32 has lots of cool projects and articles. The cover story is a profile of prop maker Shawn Thorrson, who makes amazing science fiction costumes with a vacu-form system in his workshop. The issue also includes an interview with Arduino co-creator Massimo Banzi, an introduction to industrial design by Bob Knetzger, a profile of famous toy and game designer Marvin Glass (Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, Mousetrap, Operation), a BeagleBone tutorial, a feature about the rocket industry in the Mojave Desert, and a profile of Dezso Molnar, creator of a motorcycle gyrocopter.

MAKE Vol 32

3D printed "Success Kid"

Ryan sez, "I did a digital sculpture of the e-famous Success Kid and am selling 3D printed copies through Shapeways. Here's a video timelapse of the sculpting process."

Success Kid (Thanks, Ryan!)

A fact that explains a lot about why I hate certain bars

According to a Popular Science story published earlier this month, turning up the volume of music in a bar increases the rate at which the patrons drink. Which I suppose makes sense. When you can't talk to anybody, you always have booze to be your friend. In fact, a 22 percent increase in music volume yields a 26 percent increase in alcohol consumption. That answers my long-standing question about why you'd want to make your bar ungodly unpleasant to be in. But, sadly, it also suggests that the problem won't be fixed any time soon.

Amazing citizen science opportunity!

This is seriously awesome. Researchers with the Mastadon Matrix Project need help sifting through "matrix" — the dirt that a fossil is embedded in. Join the Project, and you'll be sent a kilogram of matrix from a mastadon dig in New York State. You can do the analysis with inexpensive, easy-to-find equipment, and then send your discoveries back to the scientists. It's a great chance to do real, valuable scientific research in your school or home. Check it out! (Via Karen Traphagen)

Country store on dirt road. Sunday afternoon. (Photo)

A 1939 photo by Dorothea Lange for the Farm Security Administration. See full size at Shorpy.

Scientific American goes inside the rogue geo-engineering story

Recently, news broke that a scientist had unilaterally launched a geo-engineering experiment — dumping iron sulfate and iron oxide into the Pacific Ocean. There were two goals to the project: First, grow a massive plankton bloom which would store atmospheric carbon the same way that trees take in and store atmospheric carbon; second, use that plankton as a food source to restore salmon populations in the northern Pacific. If it sounds like those two goals are kind of fundamentally contradictory — if the salmon eat the plankton, then the stored carbon is going to end up back in the atmosphere, not indefinitely stored — well, you're right.

But the project showed that it's relatively easy for a small group of people to experiment on Earth's ecosystem without any oversight or approval from the global community at large. That's why the story made headlines. And it's why Scientific American's David Biello did a two-part feature on the experiment, writing about the background and interviewing Russ George, the scientist who launched the project.

George's ideas do have a basis in science. In essence, he's trying to replicate the effects of a volcanic eruption, which are associated with plankton blooms. George believes that the blooms are caused by large depositions of the nutrient iron. And, although other scientists think his goal of feeding salmon would defeat his goal of storing carbon, George thinks their findings are wrong. And he thinks this study will prove it. As a bonus, he's also hoping that the effect on salmon will reinvigorate the economy of a nearby Haida fishing village.

As for the legality of the project, here's what George told Scientific American:

This is Canada so it's British law, not American law. In British law, if you want to do something and you're not sure whether it's legal or not, you commission officers of the court to do an analysis and produce an official document, a legal opinion as to whether it breaks the law or not. This was done. The opinion was that with comparative studies and international laws we were absolutely in the clear. The claim that this is illegal is the design of the people who want to burn the books. This is the life of the village that they're trying to kill.

Read David Biello's interview with Russ George

Read David Biello's story about the geo-engineering experiment

HOWTO make a Minecraft Herobrine costume

Matt sez, "Here's a link for the Herobrine costume I made for my son. After a bunch of requests, I put up the PDF files and instructions to make your own. It was a huge hit with the kids at his school. Even bigger than when we went as Finn and the Ice King last year!"

(Thanks, Matt!)

How to: Eat a triceratops

With their big, bitey teeth and teeny, ineffectual arms, it can be difficult to picture how Tyrannosaurus Rex actually managed to eat anything. After all, all of our personal experience with eating involves an awful lot of gripping with the forearms. Some new research, takes a stab at understanding T. Rex table manners. The results are pretty neat — and they highlight the similarities between dinosaurs and birds — but I want to make a bit of a bigger deal out of the methodology.

Several times on this blog, we've talked about the importance of the vast archives of archaeological and paleontological specimens that are sitting around in storage at museums and universities. Some of these things have never even been removed from the matrix of burlap and plaster used to secure them for shipping. Some have sat there for decades, enjoying only a cursory glance from researchers. But when scientists finally start sifting through these unseen specimens, they often find fascinating things.

Read the rest

Copyright versus human rights

On TechDirt, Leigh Beadon's taken an excellent, in-depth look at the way that UN instruments and treaties address copyright and human rights.

G4 announces the end of Attack of the Show!X-Play

In an official announcement on its web site, gamer channel G4 told fans that its two of its most popular and long-running shows would end at the end of the year:

G4's two longest-running and defining series, Attack of the Show! and X-Play, will be ending their run at the end of 2012. Both shows will include original episodes through the end of the year, and will look back at their most memorable moments as we lead up to their final episodes.
Both long-running shows helped define, as well as expand, the pop culture and gaming TV experience for a generation. We hope you've had as much fun watching them as we have had making them...

As a send-off, both shows will feature a lineup of famous guest hosts, including John Barrowman, Horatio Sanz, Michael Ian Black, and Paul Scheer. A complete list wasn't provided, but don't be surprised if some G4 alumni -- like Nerdist's Chris Hardwick, Kevin Pereira, and Olivia Munn -- show up to be a part of the extended farewell.

(via G4TV)

Wet Hair: "Spill Into Atmosphere" music review


These Iowa psychpop-kraudrone-WTFwave weirdos return with their second full length for De Stijl, the group now expanded from a duo to a trio, with a sound that while still weird, continues to move further away from the twisted noiseness of the early releases, toward something distinctly more melodic and much more accessible. Titled "Spill Into Atmosphere" (CD and LP), this release melds their psych-kraut tendencies with something that sounds much more like some lost new wave /cold wave artifact, due in no small part to the deep dramatic crooned vox of frontman Shawn Reed, he of the late great Raccoo-oo-oon. But the band get all wave-y too, weaving a lush twisted backdrop of synth buzz, and driving drums, the bass thick and fuzzy and sinewy, the sound rife with playful almost carnivalesque melodies, often blossoming into sun dappled prismatic clouds of swirling synth shimmer, but just as often locking into a tranced out hypnorock mesmer.

If these guys were an instrumental band, they'd definitely be a whole different beast, some sort of heady, druggy psych-kraut-prog combo that would fall more in line with groups like Cave, Lumerians, Gnod and the like, cuz the instrumental stretches here get downright blissy and trancey and dreamily psychedelic. The vocals though give it a distinctly goth-pop cast, adding some Suicide and Spacemen 3 and Interpol to Wet Hair's sonic equation, and transforming this into something much weirder, and in its own twisted way, much cooler.

Wet Hair: "Spill Into Atmosphere" CD and LP

Bird poops on TV anchor

FOX40 Sacramento anchor Paul Robins was chatting with co-host Bethany Crouch outside AT&T Park Thursday morning after the SF Giants win, when a seagull crapped on him.

“I have to tell you Bethany," he says, “one of my goals in life is to make it on YouTube and I think I just did.”

In the year 2000

Illustration from a 1960 Cinzano ad, shared on Flickr by photographer and vintage ad aficionado Paul Malon of Toronto. His collection is extensive and excellent.

The dangers of being a 19th-century x-ray fiend

X-Ray Specs — the cheap glasses that ostensibly allow you to see the bones in your own hand and/or ladies' undergarments — are instantly familiar to anybody who read comic books in the 20th century. Last week, The Onion AV Club shared a fascinating video showing that immature gags about x-ray vision began long before the Marvel Comics' advertising department was even a glimmer in somebody's eye.

"The X-Ray Fiend" was a short film produced in 1897 — just two years after William Rontgen gave x-rays their name. It's basically an X-Ray Specs gag writ large, with the aforementioned fiend checking out the insides of a necking couple. You can watch it at The Onion.

That video sent me toodling around through some of the fascinating history surrounding x-rays in pop culture. Rontgen wasn't the first to discovery x-rays, but he was the first person to really study them in depth and his x-ray photograph of his wife's hand kicked off a public sensation. To give you an idea of how into x-rays everybody was for a while, the AV Club story actually includes a link to a 19th century Scientific American how-to that promised to teach the reader to make their own x-ray machine at home. You know. For funsies.

It's kind of crazy how popular x-rays became, considering how dangerous they can be. The Scientific American piece, for instance, now comes with a 21st century disclaimer warning that "Many operators of the early x-ray systems experienced severe damage to hands over time, often necessitating amputations or other surgery." Which brings us to Clarence Dally ...

Read the rest

Boing Boing Daily Digest 003 10/26/2012

I am continuing to experiment with a daily digest highlighting some of my favorite posts on Boing Boing. This one is about eight minutes long. Let me know what you think!

Storm chaser's gorgeous photography


Tornado-loving BB pal Jody Radzik just turned me on to Extreme Instability, a collection of one intrepid storm chaser's breathtaking weather photography. The above photo that I've taken it upon myself to title "Act of God" is from a bow echo in Watertown, South Dakota on August 3. The photographer: "I'm driving along, having gained at least a small bit of ground again, when I see this white cross and a roadside chapel next to the road. No way. Slam on the brakes, pull over and jump out of the car and shoot fast fast." Extreme Instability

Touched by a mountain gorilla

This video clip has been around since 2011, but it may be new for you. It documents photographer John King's "an amazing chance encounter with a troop of wild mountain gorillas near Bwindi National Park, Uganda," and at around 3 minutes in, shows a cameraman being curiously poked and cuddled by a female and her babies. Definitely a cure for any case of the bummers you may be experiencing today. Don't miss the look the gorilla gives the human around 5:11, before it walks away. As a commenter put it, "ALPHA AS FUCK."

Honda designs a car "for women," the Fit She's

At left, the new Honda Fit She's, a car available in predictable pink or what the maker calls "eyeliner brown." The vehicle is designed for the female market in Japan, and costs around $17.5K USD at current exchange rates. Official website here, in Japanese.

The Honda Fit She's features a “Plasmacluster” climate control system the maker claims can improve skin quality, a windshield that prevents wrinkles, a pink interior stitching, "tutti-frutti-hued chrome bezels," and an adorable heart instead of an apostrophe in “She’s.”

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Some of the scariest moments in sci-fi and fantasy movies, all in one place!

In case you were looking for a comprehensive list of the most terrifying moments in science fiction and fantasy, plus some straight-up horror, io9 has compiled one -- complete with YouTube clips! Imagine how scary all those little moments are in context... (via io9)