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Lucasfilm acquisition inspires Epcot renovation


Epcot renovation now underway. (via FP)

Giant German pointy swivelling TV from the 1950s/60s

No Pattern Required tells us about the KUBA Komet, a 5'7" tall, 7' wide, 300lb TV that could swivel all the way around:

Wow! What can I say about this TV, but Wow! Is this not the most retro, kitschy, crazy TV you have ever seen? This is the Kuba Komet from Germany, and I am totally in love. The KUBA Corporation manufactured the Komet from 1957 to 1962 in Wolfenbuttel, West Germany. These were kind of an early version of the entertainment center, as there were 8 speakers embedded in this along with a record player, a radio, and a TV tuner in the bottom cabinet. For an extra charge you could also get a early version of a type of tape recorder and a Remote control with UHF tuner!

Sara’s Dream TV – The Kuba Komet! | No Pattern Required (via Retronaut)

University of the People: free, online education

Nora sez,

Founded in 2009 by educational entrepreneur Shai Reshef, University of the People is the world's first tuition-free completely online university, offering Associate and Bachelor degrees in Business Administration and Computer Science. Students are asked to pay a one-time application fee ($50), and $100 end-of-course final examination fees. Aside from that, there is no tuition and all courses, books, and resources are provided free of charge online. UoPeople is approved to grant degrees by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE), and is currently working to seek accreditation.

In keeping with its mission, UoPeople strives to ensure that no qualified individual is excluded from a chance at higher education for financial reasons. To assist students in financial need with their examination fees, UoPeople has dedicated student scholarship funds. Corporate sponsors include Hewlett-Packard's sponsorship of 100 HP Scholars as part of the UoPeople Women Scholarship Fund, as well as Intel Foundation's sponsorship of women students from Haiti. In the near future, UoPeople will launch a Micro-Scholarship Portal, the first of its kind, to allow donors to contribute to individual students.

To date, the university has been funded by Shai Reshef, and by grants from various foundations including The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Kauffman Foundation, The Hewlett Foundation, The Goodman Family Foundation, and The Passport Foundation, among others. With $6 million more, the University will be self-sustainable. In its quest to reach sustainability, UoPeople is currently in discussions with several foundations regarding grants, and is always seeking philanthropic and corporate donations.

University of the People – The world’s first tuition-free online university (Thanks, Nora!)

Scary horror movie set in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

The Daws brothers' "Missing in the Mansion" is a great little Blair-Witch-style short horror movie about ghosts in Disneyland. It's actually plenty scary. Inside the Magic's Ricky Brigante, an association producer on the movie, notes that it was shot mostly on location at Disneyland, which must have taken some doing.

Video: Real ghosts revealed(?) in The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland on newly found footage depicting an eerie encounter (Thanks, Ricky!)

"After Sandy," Rob Delaney

ABC News coverage of the NYU hospital evacuation, via Gothamist

Rob Delaney, writing about those babies rescued by first responders from a hospital in New York City that lost power during Superstorm Sandy:

As I looked at these pictures of the babies being evacuated, I had a depressing thought. What are the financial situations of these babies’ parents? Are they poor? Do they have insurance? Are they on Medicaid? Medicaid is a health program that pays for medical services for those who cannot afford them. It is jointly funded by the federal and state governments. In some ways, I’d be happy if you were learning this information for the first time right now; the reason being that you don’t have to rely on Medicaid. Regardless, I suspect that if you had some “Medicaid” in your pocket last night, you’d have gladly given it to these precious babies to ensure their health and safety. It’s a good thing. If one of those babies were poor, I don’t suspect you’d want to punish her because her dad got laid off from his manufacturing job or because leukemia killed her older brother and bankrupted her parents just in time for her birth. If you don’t like these examples, tough shit; they’re how people get poor in the United States of America in 2012. I don’t want you to like them. 

Read the rest: "After Sandy" (

“Heckuva Job Brownie” criticizes Obama for responding to Hurricane Sandy “so quickly.”

Former FEMA Director Michael “Can I come home?” Brown is upset with President Obama for responding to Hurricane Sandy “so quickly.”

“One thing he’s gonna be asked is, why did he jump on [the hurricane] so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when in…Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas?” Brown says. “Why was this so quick?… At some point, somebody’s going to ask that question…. This is like the inverse of Benghazi.”
Heckuva Job Brownie Criticizing Obama for Preparing Too Quickly (Via Cynical-C)

Look at Ivanovich's fancy cap

Ivanovich was famous for one thing: his beautiful cap.

Shuttle Enterprise may have sustained damage from "Superstorm" Sandy

Photo: Heath Hurwitz. Enterprise sits partially exposed and possibly damaged at Intrepid Museum in NYC after the storm, Oct. 30, 2012.

At CollectSpace, word that space shuttle Enterprise, NASA's original prototype orbiter, "is sitting exposed and appears to have been partially damaged by Hurricane Sandy after the severe storm passed over New York City on Monday night (Oct. 29)." Photos here. (thanks, Dean Putney)

What happened to the HMS Bounty? After Hurricane Sandy sinks tall ship, many questions remain

The HMS Bounty, a 180-foot sailboat, is shown submerged in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Sandy approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tim Kuklewski.

This Washington Post article by Ian Shapira is the most comprehensive account I've seen of what happened to HMS Bounty, a replica of the 18th century tall ship which starred in the 1962 Marlon Brando "Mutiny on the Bounty" film, and various Pirates of the Caribbean movies. No definitive word on exactly what caused the accident, but many theories.

Of the 16-person crew, the Coast Guard rescued 14. They recovered the body of Claudene Christian, 42, and are still searching for Robin Walbridge, 63, the ship's captain.

In the LA Times today, a remembrance of Ms. Christian.

Even other sea captains are mystified.

Above, a Coast Guard photo of the foundering HMS Bounty.

(thanks, Andrew Thaler)

XKCD's massive map of Congress's political leanings since the start

Just in time for election season, XKCD's Randall Monroe has busted out another of his amazing, wall-sized infographics, this one depicting the swings to the left, right and center of the senate and the house, through all of US electoral history.


Sexy breast cancer campaigns anger patients

A wonderful article by Liz Szabo in USA Today on "I heart boobies," "save the ta-tas," and all those other horrible sexualized breast cancer campaigns that raise dubious funds for dubious goals and leave those of us who have the disease feeling demeaned. There is nothing sexy about breast cancer, and Szabo does a fantastic job in this piece explaining why. Above, one of the worst such campaigns I have ever seen.

Read the rest

Collective Intelligence: Science on Trial, Berlusconi sentenced. Dispatch from Italy, by Jasmina Tesanovic

The Italian scientific community was stunned when Italian scientists, seismologists, were recently sentenced to years of prison for manslaughter, for failing to predict the lethal earthquake in Aquila in 2009. Other scientists have resigned to their jobs in protest, and even some relatives of the victims condemned the sentence as ridiculous.

The world press was reporting on the dark ages of inquisition in Italian courts and labs. But then, journalistic investigations discovered political scandals that implied a plot to downplay earthquake dangers in Aquila, involving Berlusconi and his cabinet. Silvio Berlusconi can't control earthquakes any more than seismologists can, but he's always been keen on controlling media.

Read the rest

What Apple's Game of Executive Thrones means for you

iOS chief Scott Forstall is out, SVP Jonny Ive moves to head of Interface design—lots of changes at One Infinite Loop. Dan Moren at Macworld writes about the executive shuffle Apple announced late Monday. "It's the kind of drama we in the tech press usually only get from watching Game of Thrones," says Dan. "Consider what Monday’s maneuvers mean for the hardware, software, and services coming out of Cupertino.

Non-bummer Hurricane Sandy instagram of the day: Guy sharing power strip with strangers

Jen van der Meer snapped this wonderful photo of a nice man sharing power with strangers in NYC, after massive outages from Hurricane Sandy. Click for large. (thanks, @aileengraef!)

Disney acquires Lucasfilm

The Walt Disney Company today announced that it has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction valued at $4.05 billion, with Disney paying "approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing." Press release announcing the deal here. Here's a list of all the media Disney already owns: ABC; Pixar; Marvel; as well as Hollywood, Mammoth and Buena Vista Records, just for a start.

So here's one interesting snip: "Our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years."

Read the rest

Good Books: Geek Mom, The Hive, Building Stories, Weird Horrors

Here are a few notable books that have recently crossed my desk:

Geek Mom: Projects, Tips, and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st-Century Families. Written by the editors of Wired's Geek Mom blog, this book offers a wide range of activities for geeky families: role-playing games, cooking, costume-making, science projects, and crafts. I liked the article about how one Geek Mom dealt with her husband's voluminous comic-book collection by storing it under a bed she modified by sticking 6-inch risers under the legs.

Weird Horrors & Daring Adventures, by Joe Kubert. Comic book great Joe Kubert passed away earlier this year. Best known for Sgt. Rock, Tarzan, and Hawkman in the 1960s and 70s, this anthology of Kubert's 1940s work reveals his versatility in a variety of genres, including horror, humor, and romance.

Is That All There Is?, by Joost Swarte. For some reason, I discovered the work of Dutch cartoonist Joost Swarte before I read Hergé's Tintin, even though it's now clear to me that Swarte's style was inspired by Hergé. But I would never dismiss Swarte as being derivative. In fact, I prefer his work over Hergé's (don't shoot me). This anthology of Swarte's alternative comics from 1972 showcases his famous clean-line style that makes reading his work a pleasure.

Speaking of Tintin and clean-line art, here's the second part of Charles Burns' "new epic masterpiece of graphic horror in brilliant, vivid color," The Hive. I don't know how to begin to describe this surreal story of a brain-damaged man's visits between parallel universes, but I made an attempt to explain the plot-so-far in my review of part one of the series.

Open thread: your DIY Hallowe'en costumes?

Each year here at Boing Boing, we invite you, dear readers, to share your plans for fun home-made costumes. So what's it gonna be? Frankenstorm Sandy? A Mars Rover? Honey Boo Boo? Do tell, in the comments.Read the rest

Report from the Supreme Court's Kirtsaeng hearing: will you get to go on owning your stuff?

Yesterday, I wrote about the Supreme Court's hearting for Kirtsaeng v. Wiley, which threatens to undermine the very nature of property itself, taking away your right to sell, modify, loan and give away any foreign-made object that has embodies one or more copyrights. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Parker Higgins has a close reading of the judges' reactions at the hearing. It's hard to know which way they'll go:

Today the Court mirrored our concerns about the right of Americans to resell the goods that they’ve legally acquired — from books to smartphones to cars — just because those goods happen to contain copyrighted materials and were manufactured overseas.

Defenders of Wiley’s position are quick to denounce those concerns as overblown. It's curious, then, that Wiley’s own lawyer, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, was hard-pressed to explain why. Justice Breyer asked about specific examples — buying a book overseas to give to your wife in the U.S., or reselling a Toyota manufactured in Japan with numerous individually copyrighted components — and did not seem impressed with the answers he got. And when Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Roberts questioned Olson about the "parade of horribles," raised by Kirtsaeng and supporting amici (including EFF), he asserted that, yes, indeed, sales of foreign made goods might require approval from the copyright holder, whether the seller is a Toyota distributor or a university library:

… if you’re going to use the product created by someone else in a way that’s contemplated by the copyright laws, maybe it’s required that you actually comply with the copyright laws by going to the owner of the copyright and saying, look, here’s what I propose to do, can I have a license to do this?

It goes without saying that a secondary market that exists only with the permission of innumerable copyright holders is a poor substitute for the genuine article. Consumers would be worse off for it, and it’s not what Congress intended.

A Parade of Horribles: Supreme Court Justices Consider the Limits of First Sale in Kirtsaeng v. Wiley

You've Been Owned: Stand Up For Digital First Sale [EFF Action Center]

Stranger moves patio furniture (video)

"We laughed about it the first time. The second time you start thinking a little bit more about it…'something is wrong here.'"

Stranger movies patio furniture (Via Arbroath)

A time for celebration

From Doghouse Diaries

Sandy update: 39 dead in US; over 8.2 million in East without power

A roundup of Hurricane Sandy damage via AP: millions of Americans from Maine to South Carolina are still without electricity, New York City is quiet and "all but closed off by car, train and air," and the weather system is still delivering wind, rain, and even snow. 39 people in the US died from the superstorm, many crushed by falling trees. More than 69 were killed in the Caribbean, and the damage to property and infrastructure in Jamaica, Haiti, and other nations there is massive.

TV news reporter strong Darwin Award contender for live Hurricane Sandy coverage

Ted Scouten is a reporter for the Miami CBS station WFOR, and was in New York City this week assisting in hurricane Sandy coverage for network "sister station" WCBS-NY.

From TV Newser: "Scouten, stationed in the Rockaways section of Queens, got a real New York welcome Monday as Sandy’s surge sent waves into the street and took him down, as shown on CBS This Morning." (thanks, @milesobrien)

HOWTO make a gingerbread Haunted Mansion

The always-excellent Haunted Dimensions has excellent directions for making your own gingerbread replica of the Phantom Manor, Disneyland Paris's answer to the Haunted Mansion, along with a gallery of others' haunted gingerbread creations. Yum!

Haunted Dimensions- Gingerbread Dimensions (Thanks, Francesco!)

Philippe Caza's early psychedelic art

50 Watts has a gallery of Philippe Caza's early work. Caza writes, "I was a great fan of Moscoso, Crumb, Griffin, and some other US underground comix that I could find at one bookseller in Paris."

I think his work is also reminiscent of Heinz Edelmann, the Yellow Submarine artist, and Peter Max.

Caza posts his recent (and excellent) work on his blog (which is in French).

Classic horror soundtracks on vinyl


Death Waltz Recording Company deals in exquisitely-curated horror/cult movie soundtracks reissued on vinyl in gorgeous packaging with newly-commissioned cover art. Several months ago, I posted about their fantastic reissue of John Carpenter and Alan Howarth's Escape From New York soundtrack. Since then, I've picked up several more Death Waltz reissues like Giuliano Sorgini's "Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue," Johan Söderqvist's "Let the Right One In, " and John Carpenter and Alan Howarth's "Halloween II." Surprise, surprise, now I want all of them. In fact, Death Waltz offers a subscription service for six releases in limited-edition colored vinyl complete with a numbered lithograph and poster. Yes, that will be on my holiday wish list. Juno Plus just posted an interview with Spencer Hickman, Death Waltz's zombie-in-chief:


Where was the idea for Death Waltz born? My three loves have always been music, movies and art, and I’ve always worked within that to an extent, whether it’s doing horror fanzines, putting on film festivals or working in record shops. And I was just thinking there’s a real lack of soundtrack music out on vinyl, even though vinyl is the only physical format growing in sales. So I decided to do start my own label – it’s just something I wanted to do. It was originally only going to be soundtrack reissues but now we’re moving into current films…

You obviously have a predilection for horror – where does that stem from?

I think I was 12, and my dad gave me a copy of The Exorcist on bootleg video. Around that time I was watching stuff like Salem’s Lot on TV, scaring myself shitless. There was a video shop that opened up down the road from us, and because there were no laws then, we joined and I would go down and rent stuff like Cannibal Holocaust. I remember watching a double bill of Cannibal Holocaust and Last House On The Left when I was about 13. I’m surprised I’m a functioning member of society. I basically watched a lot of shit and then the odd gem.

Death Waltz Recording Company

"In discussion with Death Waltz’s Spencer Hickman" (Juno Plus)

Listen to bits of Death Waltz releases on Soundcloud

Radar imaging of Hurricane Sandy reveals the power in its core

The images above — prepared by NASA hurricane researcher Owen Kelly — were taken on Sunday, before Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the United States' Northeast coast. They're made from radar data collected by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite, and they show a feature of this storm that helps explain why it's caused much more destruction than you might expect from a Category 1 hurricane.

In the right-hand image, showing a close-up of the storm's eye, you can see a feature labeled "eyewall". Those are vertical cloud walls that surround the eye, and they're the spot with the strongest winds in the whole storm.

Placed in context, the TRMM-observed properties of Hurricane Sandy’s eyewall are evidence of remarkable vigor. Most hurricanes only have well-formed and compact eyewalls at category 3 strength or higher. Sandy was not only barely a category 1 hurricane, but Sandy was also experiencing strong wind shear, Sandy was going over ocean typically too cold to form hurricanes, and Sandy had been limping along as a marginal hurricane for several days.

That eyewall, says NASA and New Scientist, is the result of Sandy's Frankenstorm nature. Despite all the factors that should have made this storm weak, it represented the merging of several storm systems. Because of that, Sandy was stronger than a Category 1 storm normally is.

Read the full story on this at NASA and New Scientist

Via Michael Marshall

Daddy-daughter power-loader costume

Jason Smith made this awesome father-daughter power-loader costume for his baby daughter, who gets to play Ripley as they stalk the night streets. This is parenting at its finest.

Dad and Baby Daughter Alien Power Loader Costume: Now With Video

Why do electric transformers explode?

Sixty milliseconds is fast. But sometimes, it's not fast enough. That's the gist of a great explainer by Cassie Rodenberg at Popular Mechanics, which answers the question, "Why do transformers explode?"

Before I link you over there, I want to add a quick reminder of what transformers actually are.

Although giant robots that turn into trucks do also explode from time to time, in this case we are talking about those cylindrical boxes that you see attached to electric poles. (Pesco posted a video of one exploding last night.) To understand what they do, you have to know the basics of the electric grid.

I find that it's easiest to picture the grid like a lazy river at a water park. That's because we aren't just talking about a bunch of wires, here. The grid is a circuit, just like the lazy river. Electricity has to flow along it from the power plant, to the customers, and back around to the power plant again. And, like a lazy river, the grid has to operate within certain limits. The electricity has to move at a constant speed (analogous to what engineers call frequency) and at a constant depth (analogous to voltage). This is where transformers come in.

Read the rest

Minecraft Creeper hoodie for kids

I've got one of Jane's Christmas presents taken care of.

Minecraft Creeper Premium Zip-up Youth Hoodie

Spiderlings, zebrafish embryo blood-brain barrier, and the 2012 Photomicrography Competition winners



Walter Piorkowski's startling image above of live newborn lynx spiderlings at 6x magnification won 2nd place in Nikon's 2012 Photomicrography Competition. The winning image, at right, was Dr. Jennifer L. Peters and Dr. Michael R. Taylor's image of the blood-brain barrier in a live zebrafish embryo at 20x magnification.