Boing Boing 

Cufflinks that open hand-cuffs


Coming soon from Sparrows Lock Picks: a $59 pair of cufflinks that integrate a set of handcuff keys. Yet another reason to regret the fact that none of my shirts have French cuffs.

Upon first glance, The Sparrows UNCUFF LINK appears to be a standard pair of cuff links. However, a covert, hidden handcuff key has been engineered in to the design. This concealed hand cuff key will to open almost all Standard Hand cuffs. It’s also designed to hold your French Cuffs closed. A must have for any international SPY or the average citizen looking for some styling carbon fiber inlaid cuff links that happen to open Hand cuffs.

*WARNING: The use of this product under some circumstances may result in you being shot.*

Don’t Break the LAW

SPARROWS UNCUFF LINK (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

How to follow the Petraeus CyberClusterFuck: a flowchart

Hilary Sargent, investigator and chart-maker, is trying to make sense of the Petraeus scandal. So are we. So it was with great delight that we encountered her explanatory flowchart. LARGE: Download PDF, or JPG. (Headline HT: @joneilnyt)

Israel live-tweets Gaza offensive

Brian Fung at the Atlantic writes: "Over the past six hours, Israel's military has been hammering Gaza with a barrage of missiles. The IDF's public relations team, meanwhile, has just as steadily been covering the offensive -- updating its Twitter handle, @IDFSpokesperson, with the play-by-play on Operation Pillar of Defense. Within moments of the opening salvo, IDF officials announced that they'd killed the top operative in Hamas' armed services."

Airlines and obese fliers: is there a better way to handle seat space conflict?

In The Economist, an essay on the challenges for larger passengers who often face humiliating and stress-causing treatment on commercial air travel. Air Canada has an interesting policy about heavier fliers: it treats obesity as a medical condition, and "provides overweight passengers with a free extra seat as long as they present a doctor's note."

Petraeus biographer-lover Broadwell had "substantial classified data" on computer

Reuters reports that a computer used by Paula Broadwell, whose affair with CIA chief David Petraeus led to his resignation, "contained substantial classified information that should have been stored under more secure conditions," according to law enforcement and national security sources. "The contents of the classified material and how Broadwell acquired it remain under investigation, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to comment publicly. But the quantity of classified material found on the computer was significant enough to warrant a continuing investigation." Read more: Reuters.

Panorama inside a washing-machine

Jeffrey sez, "Perhaps not quite surpassing his panorama inside a mouth at the dentist, 360Cities member and Impossible Panorama master Nico Roig created this panorama inside a washing machine."

Inside a washing machine (Thanks, Jeffrey)

Shirtless FBI agent in Petraeus scandal revealed

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Frederick Humphries. I am glad I haven't encountered the actual shirtless sexted photos, and hope to avoid such an occurrence. (NYT)

The Making Of Die Antwoord's "Fatty Boom Boom" video

The Boing Boing + Meltdown Comics Die Antwoord music video marathon last night was a blast; I hope to post video of the evening for you all soon. Ninja and Yo-Landi screened a brand-new video last night, a "making of" short film that shows how Fatty Boom Boom was created. [Video Link]

Open Source Ecology's "Build Yourself"

Tristan sez, "At Open Source Ecology, we're making all the industrial machines you need to create a fully autonomous community, and sharing our designs online for free. We've just made a 3 minute film about our work and with your help it could win the Focus Forward film competition. This would earn us up to 100K to help us continue developing and spreading new machines. We hope you enjoy and vote for our film!" [Video Link]

You can listen to the entire soundtrack for The Hobbit right now

If you want to hear the whole soundtrack for Peter Jackson's upcoming The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (composed by Howard Shore), but don't want to wait until December 10 to buy it, Empire is streaming the entire thing right now. The movie comes out December 13, but this is your early chance to hear the whole score apart from the movie. (via The Huffington Post)

The trailer for Iron Man 3, sweded

(Video link) When you love big-budget comic book movies and are in the possession of several pieces of cardboard (and willing friends), you swede. It's just what happens, and it has happened to the trailer for Iron Man 3, thanks to the folks at Dumb Drum. They've even offered a side-by-side comparison so you can see how well they did their job. (via Nerdist News on Twitter)

Timothy Leary's papers return to Harvard, 50 years after they gave him the boot

Lisa Rein from the Timothy Leary estate writes,

Fifty years after being cut loose by Harvard for being too enthusiastic regarding the successful results of his experiments with psilocybin and LSD, the only complete collection of Timothy Leary's published works, including the papers of the original Harvard psychedelic research, has been acquired by the university that banished him and his partner, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), in 1963.

The Leary collection is just one of the many jewels in the Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library of Geneva that the prestigious Houghton Library recently acquired on long-term loan. Virtually unknown to the public, it is the greatest library of psychoactive drug history, literature, science and culture on the planet, formed over a decade by a visionary and committed collector, Julio Santo Domingo (1958-2009).

Leary and Alpert took their banishment from Academia in stride, and helped further the budding Psychedelic Revolution, which subsequently was itself banished from western society. So in a sense, Leary is making a comeback, just as psychedelic research appears to be. With all the printed work by and about him in one place, presently being processed and catalogued (it will take a while), students and historians will be able to study the research and truly assess the role of Leary, Alpert, Metzner, and the most famous mind drug in history.

Timothy Leary and Harvard, Reunited At Last

Exclusive excerpt from The Walking Dead novel - The Road to Woodbury

Here's an exclusive excerpt from The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury, which is the sequel to The Walking Dead: Rise of The Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga.

The zombie plague unleashes its horrors on the suburbs of Atlanta without warning, pitting the living against the dead. Caught in the mass exodus, Lilly Caul struggles to survive in a series of ragtag encampments and improvised shelters. But the Walkers are multiplying. Dogged by their feral hunger for flesh and crippled by fear, Lilly relies on the protection of good Samaritans by seeking refuge in a walled-in town once known as Woodbury, Georgia.

At first, Woodbury seems like a perfect sanctuary. Squatters barter services for food, people have roofs over their heads, and the barricade expands, growing stronger every day. Best of all, a mysterious self-proclaimed leader named Philip Blake keeps the citizens in line. But Lilly begins to suspect that all is not as it seems... Blake, who has recently begun to call himself The Governor, has disturbing ideas about law and order.

Ultimately, Lilly and a band of rebels open up a Pandora’s box of mayhem and destruction when they challenge The Governor’s reign . . . and the road to Woodbury becomes the highway to hell in this riveting follow-up to Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga's New York Times bestselling The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor.

Read Excerpt from The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury

Composite UK politicians


Shardcore sez, "I've built some generative politicians, they're nearly as hateful as the real thing... Their faces, and the words they speak are a blend of David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. The text is generated from utterences made by the three Party Leaders in the House of Commons, harvested from Hansard via the wonderful TheyWorkForYou.com API. As our politicians become interchangeable puppets of spin, one can imagine a near future where they are replaced by generative robot systems. Would anyone notice the difference?"

On the tragic news from Afghanistan, that the posh boys have ordered him off the estate today, As Deputy Prime Minister.

algo-politicians (Thanks, Shardcore)

Remembering the EasyKey keyboard overlay for the Apple ][


Bob Knetzger is a toy and game designer and the Toy Inventor's Notebook columnist for MAKE. He says:

Saw your cool post on clunky 80's Apple ][ software interfaces -- wow, that really takes me back.

That kind of horrible interface is what inspired me to develop the EasyKey keyboard overlay for the Apple ][ and other home computers.

This EasyKey brand was created by me and my two partners at the time, fellow industrial designer Rick Gurolnick and programming and hardware whiz EE Dan Schoff. Together we started a small company called Neosoft that created some of the most highly regarded educational software of the 1908s. We created products for CBS Software, Simon and Schuster, and others, that combined the clever 6502 assembly language programming techniques (who remembers page flipping, pixel patterns to create extra pseudo colors, and sound waveform zero-crossing for A to D sound tricks?) with solid educational values together with state of the zippy bit-map art work.

The titles were award-winning, museum-level quality, and just plain FUN! Baby dinosaurs hatched out of their eggs to show your scores, human body cut-away layers dissolved to show internal organs, maps and timelines came to life...and more. And this at a time when most Apple ][ software offered space invader sprites.

With our EasyKey titles you could change programs and just swap the keyboard cover. Here, play US Presidents games without any typing or spelling--just press for your choice:


Kids around the world had fun and learned with our programs--here's an Aboriginal student in AUS tries out some looking-and-counting games with Number Farm -- as depicted in National Geographic:

DIY LED glasses to inspire programming

I met Daniel Hirschmann and Bethany Koby last year in Brussels. They run a electronics haberdashery and kit development company in London called Technology Will Save Us. They are great people. They have a cool new Kickstarter project called Bright Eyes.

Bright Eyes is DIY technology kit that encourages people to learn programming because it is so cool. It is a pair of glasses which have 174 LEDs (light emitting diodes) on them for you to program. These LEDs can play back graphics and videos off a micro SD card (video player), or be controlled using any microcontroller platform. Best of all, we’re making them Arduino compatible! So, if you want to add a microphone or an ambient light sensor to make them more responsive – you’ll be able to.

All of the code will be open source and freely available. We are working on easy to navigate and understandable tutorials for programming the glasses in various ways. You can create standalone graphics, animations, or generative visuals. By adding sensors, you can literally have the glasses respond to music, or if you're really keen, you can connect them to your twitter account and share your tweets!

We hope that this kit will inspire more people to learn how to program – and then begin making amazing things with technology.

The Bright Eyes Kit - DIY LED glasses to inspire programming

Would you eat the saddest Cyberman (if he was a cake)?

What has a shiny exterior, is three feet tall, devoid of human emotions... and also edible? That would be this Cyberman cake, designed and available to buy (in the UK) from Truly Scrumptious Designer Cakes. Look at this thing. It's adorable. You would never guess, by looking at this cake-face, that this is a creature born from evil alien takeovers and the extermination of the human race. This Cyberman looks like a sweetie pie to me. Sorry -- sweetie cake. As cute as it is, it doesn't come cheap (£790, about $1,260). But it does come in a variety of flavors: sponge, toffee, chocolate, and lemon. I dare you to find a dalek cake with a face this cute. I triple-dog dare you. (via That's Nerdalicious)

Photo credit: Truly Scrumptious Designer Cakes

Barnaby Ward's charity print for Rainforest Foundation UK


Artist Barnaby Ward, who designed the Boing Boing Beetle T-shirt, donated one of his prints to this year's Christmas charity auction organized by The Rainforest Foundation UK. He says, "The print is a 7 color silk screen, 5/10 signed Artist's Proof from my sold out 'Committee' print run."

Barnaby Ward's charity print for Rainforest Foundation UK on eBay

Campaign to opt out of pornoscanners & video TSA checkpoints at Thanksgiving

Dave sez, "The National Opt Out and Film Week, a new campaign designed to expose the abusive policies of the TSA, is set to launch during Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel times of the year -- and the TSA might not be able to stop it."

Supporters of Opt Out and Film Week are encouraged to film TSA activities at their local airport -- even if they are not flying -- and upload the videos to Youtube and other sites. According to the TSA website, filming TSA agents and security checkpoints is not illegal, as long as it does not interfere with security procedures....

... "The reasoning behind a National Opt-Out Week is this: If the TSA decides to shut down its scanners in response to the protest, as it allegedly did in 2010, activists would have ample opportunity to document the action over a period of a week," Elliott wrote in an article for the Huffington Post. "TSA critics would then have more than enough evidence to prove that these scans and pat-downs are a false choice and do practically nothing to improve our safety."

Showdown with TSA set for 'Opt Out and Film Week' November 19-26 Special

Asteroid impact simulator


Ben Winters, author of The Last Policeman (which I reviewed here), sent me a link to a website called Impact Earth! It was developed by Gareth Collins, HJ Melosh, and Robert Marcus at Purdue University. To use it, you enter parameters about the size and density of the hypothetical asteroid, the impact angle, the distance from impact, etc.

What happens when a rock the size of a school bus hits the Earth at an angle of 45° and a speed of 40 km/s? According to Impact Earth!

The projectile bursts into a cloud of fragments at an altitude of 96,500 ft.

No crater is formed, although large fragments may strike the surface.

Energy before atmospheric entry = 544.05 KiloTons TNT.

The average interval between impacts of this size somewhere on Earth is 68.8 years.

That's reassuring! What about a much larger astroid, say 1.3 km in diameter?

Energy before atmospheric entry: 6.6 x 10^5 MegaTons TNT

The average interval between impacts of this size somewhere on Earth during the last 4 billion years is 3.3 x 10^6 years

Final Crater Diameter: 16.7 miles

Final Crater Depth: 2610 feet

Mercalli Scale Intensity at a distance of 10 km: Most masonry and frame structures destroyed with their foundations. Some well-built wooden structures and bridges destroyed. Serious damage to dams, dikes, embankments. Large landslides. Water thrown on banks of canals, rivers, lakes, etc. Sand and mud shifted horizontally on beaches and flat land. Rails bent slightly. Underground pipelines completely out of service.

Getting bigger, a 50-kilometer asteroid will make a final crater 603 miles wide and 1.46 miles deep. If you are within 1000 kilometers of the point of impact you will be inside the resulting fireball, which will hit you 37.4 seconds after impact. Fortunately, "the average interval between impacts of this size is longer than the Earth's age. Such impacts could only occur during the accumulation of the Earth, between 4.5 and 4 billion years ago."

Asteroid impact simulator

When Edward Gorey plays the Game of Thrones, everyone wins

DeviantART users Curtana and Kaleadora have both collaborated on an adorably violent mashup of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series (which inspired HBO's Game of Thrones) and Edward Gorey, depicting some of the author's most gruesome events in the style of the darkly funny illustrator. Borrowing from the abecedarian format of Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies, the artists have depicted exactly 26 of the most well-known and, ahem, gory scenes from the series of books. (Let that be a spoiler warning for events that have not yet taken place on Game of Thrones.) See the full set, entitled "A Very Gorey ASOIAFabet," on DeviantART. (via A.V. Club)

Library in a Disaster Zone

Hurricane Sandy devastated some sections of New York City and did massive damage to numerous libraries in Queens. Undaunted, the amazing Queens Library sent a mobile book bus with a rapid response team of librarians, led by Matthew Allison, into the area as soon as roads were opened again.

Read the rest

Portlandia: A Guide for Visitors

I received an advance copy of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein's book Portlandia: A Guide for Visitors, and it's just as funny as the terrific TV series on IFC. Above, a trailer for the book. The book includes a bound-in zine published by the women's collective bookstore frequently featured on the show, which reminded me of the fun stuff that National Lampoon used to do.

Thinking of visiting Portlandia? Discover all that this magical, dreamy city has to offer with PORTLANDIA: A Guide for Visitors. Inside you'll find:

A comprehensive guide to all restaurants and food carts, including extensive use of symbols to signify Vegan, Freegan, Sea-gan, Wheelchair-Accessible, Skateboard-Accessible, Segway-Accessible, Clothing Optional, Polyamorous, LGBTQ, Dog-Friendly (No cats), Cat-Friendly (No dogs or mice) Mouse-Friendly (No cats or elephants), For Dogs (only), Regionally-Sourced Food, Regionally-Sourced Waitstaff, and House-Sourced Food (Born/dies on plate).

A guide for dogs and dog owners, including a detailed map of the numerous dog parks the city has to offer. Very numerous and passionately maintained.

An up-to-date guide to shopping, schools, and entertainment.

A city activities guide for older adults who are stuck in perpetual early twentysomething-dom.

A guide for getting around, either by foot, or by bicycle, the official car of Portlandia. Featured also are the 9 official bicycle rules of the road, drawn up by Spyke and his bike comrades. Not to be ignored!

*Please note, and point out to your best friend, that this book is printed on 130% recycled paper in a peanut-free, smoke-free plant by local workers in a friendly and fair environment, free of sudden noises and unnatural light.

Portlandia: A Guide for Visitors

Matter: a kickstartered forum for long-form, investigative journalism


Bobbie Johnson writes,

New crowdfunded science and tech publisher MATTER launches today Earlier this year Boing Boing wrote about a Kickstarter project to produce serious, in-depth, long-form online journalism. Today, after months of work, we're launching with the publication of our first story, "Do No Harm" - an 8,000 report that uncovers a network of people suffering from a fringe condition known as Body Integrity Identity Disorder. People who suffer from BIID are at war with their own bodies - specifically one or more of their limbs, which they feel utterly disconnected from in a way that most of us would struggle to understand.

But the feelings that BIID triggers are so powerful that sufferers are often driven to relieve their pain in the most drastic way - by self-amputation or, in some cases, paying a sympathetic surgeon to cut off the affected limb. Our reporter, science writer Anil Ananthaswamy, unearthed a network of sufferers in America who travel to Asia for off-the-books operations -- and even travelled with one patient as he went to get the most extreme therapy imaginable.

MATTER's stories are available to buy and read through our website or as part of Amazon's Kindle Singles program, for $0.99 -- and anyone purchasing on our site gets a DRM-free ebook as part of the deal (or sign up to receive one story each month and we give you loads of extra goodies like audiobook downloads!)

TK (Thanks, Bobbie!)

(Image: Brian Lee)

Gerrymandering in North Carolina: win <50% of the popular vote, take 70% of the seats

Mike from Mother Jones writes, "The Dems do this too, but these charts show how Republicans have become masters as gerrymandering their way to victory. In North Carolina, for instance, more than half of the electorate voted for Democratic representation, yet Republicans will fill about 70 percent of the state's House seats. Maybe that's not quite cheating--it is legal, after all--but it sure smells like it."

The Simpsons might win an Oscar, heavy on the "might"

While it's probably a long shot, a four-minute Simpsons short is currently included on the list of ten (narrowed down from 56) animated shorts that are eligible for an Oscar this year. Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare" was shown (in 3D) before Ice Age: Continental Drift this past summer and featured a fierce battle between the youngest Simpson and Baby Gerald. Written by James L. Brooks and Matt Groening, The Longest Daycare's possible nod could be sweet, sweet payback for The Simpsons Movie being shut out for Best Animated Feature back in 2008. But, as I said, it might be a long-shot; other nominees include Disney's Paperman (currently being shown before Wreck-It-Ralph), Minkyu Lee's Adam and Dog, PES' Fresh Guacamole, and Raul Garcia's The Fall of the House of Usher, which is narrated by Sir Christopher Lee. The Wrap has the complete list of the ten final contenders, and the nominees will be announced January 10. (via Splitsider)

The oldest living tree tells all


"In 1964, a geologist in the Nevada wilderness discovered the oldest living thing on earth, after he killed it." A terrific opening sentence to Hunter Oatman-Stanford's story in Collector's Weekly about bristlecone pine trees, which can live for thousands of years.

By the time of Currey’s survey, trees were typically dated using core samples taken with a hollow threaded bore screwed into a tree’s trunk. No larger than a soda straw, these cores then received surface preparations in a lab to make them easier to read under a microscope. While taking core samples from the Prometheus tree, which Currey labeled WPN-114, his boring bit snapped in the bristlecone’s dense wood. After requesting assistance from the Forest Service, a team was sent to fell the tree using chainsaws. Only days later, when Currey individually counted each of the tree’s rings, did he realize the gravity of his act.
(Image: Inyo Bristlecone Signature Tree, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from usfsregion5's photostream)

USPS Calendar Fail

On the 31st of November, the world ends.

The comic book periodic table of elements

University of Kentucky chemistry professors John P. Selegue and F. James Holler are collecting comic book references to chemical elements. On their Periodic Table of Comic Books site, you can click through the standard periodic table to see pages from comic books that mention specific elements. The samples seem to be weighted pretty heavily to classic, Golden and Silver Age stuff — there's a lot of 1940s Wonder Woman and miscellaneous anthology series from the 1960s.

They don't have all the elements accounted for yet. In particular, the lanthanides and actinides — aka, those two rows at the bottom where everything ends in "ium" — are lacking comic book shout-outs. Maybe you can help!

Visit the Periodic Table of Comic Books

Thanks to Jennifer Ouellette!

How To: Preserve a bat for museum display

Here's a big difference between nature and a natural history museum: In the wild, when you find a skeleton of anything, it's seldom arranged in a neat, orderly, anatomically correct manner. Even if an animal dies in captivity, nature won't just conveniently produce a skeleton suitable for mounting.

So how do museums get the perfect skeletal specimens that you see behind glass?

The answer: Lots and lots and lots of tedious work. Plus the assistance of a few thousand flesh-eating bugs.

This video from the University of Michigan traces the creation of a bat skeleton, from a fleshy dead bat in a jar, to a neat, little set of bones in a display case. It's painstaking (and moderately disgusting) work. Sort of like building model cars, if the Ford Mustang had realistic organ tissue.

Thanks to Neil Shurley!