Steampunk's Guide to Sex


Margaret Killjoy sez, "We just got A Steampunk's Guide to Sex back from the printer! With contributions by Alan Moore, Molly Crabapple, and Professor Calamity, the book covers all kinds of crazy Victorian sexuality as well as ideas about steampunk and geek sexuality in the 21st century. It comes complete with sketchy DIY how-tos and is illustrated by original tintypes."

Prostitution, pornography, sex toys, dirty stories, BDSM, gay New York, can-can dancers, strippers, tight-laced corsets, prudery, polyamory, consent, venereal diseases, piercings, birth control, aphrodisiacs, creepers, floggers, steam-powered vibrators, sex slang—mad historian Professor Calamity and his assembled crew of steampunk authors, artists, and performers share everything you want to know, and more, about sex under the reign of Victoria and sex in our modern subculture. Featuring contributions by: Professor Calamity, Luna Celeste, Molly Crabapple, KC Crowell, O.M. Grey, Sarah Hunter (aka Lady Clankington), Margaret Killjoy, Canis Latrans, Talloolah Love, Screaming Mathilda, Alan Moore, Miriam Roček, J.I. Wittstein.

A Steampunk's Guide to Sex

Competition to design a hydrophilic, self-filling water-bottle


A Slashdot post from Samzenpus rounds up links to a series of projects to make self-filling water-bottles inspired by the hydrophilic nodules on the Namib Desert Beetle. After a successful prototype, MIT has launched a competition to improve on the design.

Water Bottle Fills Itself From the Air

Shark socks that appear to be devouring your legs


Tsarina's tshark shocks resemble sharks that are gnawing off the wearer's feet. They come with knit, velcro-attachable remoras! The comments are full of people begging to buy a pair of these, but there's no indication at this point that they are for sale, either as patterns or finished articles.

The shark theme has been done, of course; this, however, is the Tshark theme… … and as such it is intended to go farther over the top, and deeper under the bottom, than your average sea-going pedator. (Check out my shiny new neologism that I just this minute made up! “Pedator” - a predator that is worn on the foot, geddit?)

Just When You Thought It Was Safe…. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Hacker's ad for a Yahoo email-stealing exploit, up for sale at $700

Brian Krebs has located and published a sales pitch from a hacker who has found a zero-day exploit allowing him to steal cookies from Yahoo webmail users, granting access to their accounts.

“I’m selling Yahoo stored xss that steal Yahoo emails cookies and works on ALL browsers,” wrote the vendor of this exploit, using the hacker handle ‘TheHell.’ “And you don’t need to bypass IE or Chrome xss filter as it do that itself because it’s stored xss. Prices around for such exploit is $1,100 – $1,500, while I offer it here for $700. Will sell only to trusted people cuz I don’t want it to be patched soon!”

Yahoo Email-Stealing Exploit Fetches $700

Kickstarter to buy a digital projector for the oldest cinema in Washington State

Jack sez, "The Blue Mouse Theatre in Tacoma has been operating since 1923. Unfortunately, in order to continue operating they need to buy a digital projector. They've started a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of preserving this landmark theater."

Tacoma Neighborhoods Together has partnered with us to Help preserve this historic Icon of the Proctor District and your contribution will be tax deductible

Tacoma Neighborhoods Together is the non-profit, 501(c)3 organization of the Cross District Association. It was formed to support the enhancement and beautification of Tacoma's core neighborhood centers, its neighborhood business districts. It emphasizes that the people who live and work in the neighborhoods are the ones who can best identify ways that can help to make Tacoma a more livable community. From these collective voices the direction for Tacoma Neighborhoods Together is set.

Help Save The Blue Mouse Theatre (Thanks, Jack!

Teen YouTube sensations Lexy & Stephany

I'm thankful that our pal UPSO pointed me to YouTube teen singing sensations Lexy & Stephany's uplifting video "This feels like love." But as regular BB readers know, I'm a lifelong Styx fan so I was quite moved by their rendition of "Come Sail Away." You can purchase Lexy & Stephany's 2010 album, Something More...Forevermore, at CD Baby. Oh, also, don't miss their video for "Eye of the Tiger."

Designing a cardboard chair


Dan Goldstein has been working on a cardboard chair prototype for six years, and he has come up with something he liked enough to launch a (successful) Kickstarter campaign to put it into production.

Goldstein has been building prototypes of this chair for over six years now and they have survived constant use in his house. He says, “As long as you don’t leave them in the rain they will last. I have IKEA furniture that is de-laminating and these are still fine. It’s just four layers of basic, heavy duty cardboard from any type of box and once you’ve laminated it over a mould it just kind of sticks in place."

In fact, one of Goldstein’s aims is to change the way we think about cardboard. As the material is generally used for disposable products such as boxes and containers, we perceive the material as having a very short life span. Goldstein wants to change this perception. “One of the aims is to make cardboard into something permanent. It is always just used in boxes that we toss away but it doesn’t have to be that way. That is one thing I like about the steel frame base, it puts it in the context of something durable and permanent.”


Above: Working out the design of the base.

Upcycling: Designing the cardboard chair

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Great gear for your favorite photog

This post is sponsored by Best Buy. What will your gift do?
Cameracollage3

You don’t take a photograph, you make it. - Ansel Adams

With that in mind, here is a fine collection of tools to make beautiful photographs. The rest is in the eye of the beholder.

Read the rest

Saudi Arabian women tracked at the border with system that SMSes their husbands when they leave the country

Saudi authorities have rolled out an electronic surveillance system for women, which tracks their movements and alerts their husbands by SMS when they attempt to leave the country.

The husband, who was travelling with his wife, received a text message from the immigration authorities informing him that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh.

“The authorities are using technology to monitor women,” said columnist Badriya al-Bishr, who criticised the “state of slavery under which women are held” in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Women are not allowed to leave the kingdom without permission from their male guardian, who must give his consent by signing what is known as the “yellow sheet” at the airport or border.

Saudi Arabia implements electronic tracking system for women (via /.)

How Walmart uses medicaid and foodstamps to avoid paying its workers a living wage


The combined worth of the 6 Walmart heirs and heiresses is greater than that of the bottom 41% of American families (48.8 million households). How do the grinning kids of Sam Walton stay so rich? By paying their employees slave wages and not providing benefits, forcing them to use food stamps and medicaid. Above, a poster by Miel Macassey that shows how Walmart siphons money from taxpayers so it can pay its workers (which represent 1% of the American workforce) an average of $8.81 an hour without having them and their kids drop dead of starvation.

The Last Policeman: $2.99 Kindle version

I reviewed The Last Policeman a few weeks ago. I just found out that it's on sale in the Kindle store for $2.99. It's a terrific novel so this is a bargain.

Encyclopedia of Electronic Components - a terrific reference for beginners and experienced hobbyists and circuit designers

Three years ago, MAKE published Charles Platt's book Make: Electronics, which I consider the best book on learning electronics I've ever come across. As Gareth Branwyn, the editor of the book said, "we decided to make it our mission to create a book that would patiently guide readers into the world of electronics in a way that was fun, clear-spoken, graphical, and experiential." (Disclosure: I'm the editor in chief of MAKE, so I'm biased).

Now Charles has a new book, which could be considered a kind of companion volume to Make: Electronics. It's called Encyclopedia of Electronic Components. It's the first of a forthcoming three-volume series of fact-checked reference guides to electronic components. This first volume covers power sources and power conversion: batteries, fuses, buttons, switches, relays, resistors, potentiometers, capacitors, transformers, power supplies, motors, diode, and transistors.


Like Make: Electronics, the Encyclopedia of Electronic Components is a clearly written and lavishly illustrated introduction to electronics. While Charles' first book covered the basics of electronics and electronic circuits, his second book explains what components are, how they work, and how they are used. It's meant to be a reference, but I enjoyed reading it from start to finish, because I don't know much about components, the wide variety of each kind of component, and what they're used for.

Charles also dedicated the book to me, and I'm honored that he did.

Encyclopedia of Electronic Components

Breaking a 18th C cipher reveals hidden history of Freemasonry and freethought


Noah Shachtman's long Wired feature "They Cracked This 250-Year-Old Code, and Found a Secret Society Inside," tells the intriguing story of the cracking of the "Copiale" cipher, a strange text left behind by a mid-18th-century secret society called the Oculists. The Oculists had formerly been remembered as being concerned with performing and perfecting eye surgeries, but the Copiale cipher revealed them to have been either spies within Freemasonry, or Freemasons who'd formed another secret society to record and safeguard Mason rituals in the face of persecution from the Catholic church. I was particularly intrigued by the parallels Shachtman draws between members of secret societies and contemporary online secret groups, both using cryptography to guard their freethought from intolerant state snooping.

Hundreds of thousands of Europeans belonged to secret societies in the 18th century, Önnerfors explained to Megyesi; in Sweden alone, there were more than a hundred orders. Though they were clandestine, they were often remarkably inclusive. Many welcomed noblemen and merchants alike—a rare egalitarian practice in an era of strict social hierarchies. That made the orders dangerous to the state. They also frequently didn’t care about their adherents’ Christian denomination, making these orders—especially the biggest of them, Freemasonry—an implicit threat to the authority of the Catholic Church. In 1738 Pope Clement XII forbade all Catholics from joining a Masonic lodge. Others implied that the male-only groups might be hotbeds of sodomy. Not long after, rumors started that members of these orders actually worshipped the devil.

These societies were the incubators of democracy, modern science, and ecumenical religion. They elected their own leaders and drew up constitutions to govern their operations. It wasn’t an accident that Voltaire, George Washington, and Ben Franklin were all active members. And just like today’s networked radicals, much of their power was wrapped up in their ability to stay anonymous and keep their communications secret.

After reading the Oculists’ cipher, Önnerfors suggested that it described one of the more extreme groups. Forget the implicit threats to the state or church. In part of the Copiale, there’s explicit talk about slaying the tyrannical “three-headed monster” who “deprive[s] man of his natural freedom.” There’s even a call for a “general revolt.” Remember, Önnerfors told the code-breakers, this book was written in the 1740s—30 years before the Declaration of Independence. “To someone at the time,” he added, “this would be like reading a manifesto from a terrorist organization.”

They Cracked This 250-Year-Old Code, and Found a Secret Society Inside

Honeywell's Kitchen Computer: the 1969 behemoth that didn't sell a single unit


Wired's Daniela Hernandez has an in-depth history of the Honeywell Kitchen Computer, a minicomputer that could track recipes and offer meal plans, which was listed in the 1969 Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalog, though none ever sold. Not only were the technical challenges associated with installing one of these were formidable, they were also pitched for solving a problem that wasn't really much of a problem.

I always imagined the design meeting for this going something like:

"I bet rich people would love to have the bragging rights you'd get from having a computer in their house, it'd be like having your own personal Apollo mission."

"Yeah, but what would they use 'em for? Let's ask Poindexter if he's got any ideas."

"Mrr, yes gentlemen, well, you see, computers are very good at tabulating long columns of numbers, solving differential equations, and managing 'data-bases', these being complex records, such as those used for human resources departments to keep track of the various attributes of employees and such..."

"Oh."

"Oh."

"So, uh, these data-bases, is that something you know, normal people might use? Something you'd keep around the house?"

"Oh yes! Your Christmas card list on 3x5 cards, or a list of recipes --"

"Recipes, you say?"

And off they went. Of course, in trying to improve things that worked well already (and without any input from the people whose problems they were notionally solving), Honeywell fell into the pit of "insufficient weirdness" -- imagining a future that was much like the present, only moreso. Computers that organized recipes, not computers that let you take pictures of your lunch and instantaneously share them with friends around the world.

Without a teletype, a programmer would need to enter software into the Honeywell using the 16 buttons on the front panel, each of which corresponds to a bit. A pressed button represented a one, and un-pushed button signaled a zero. “The chances that you would get a program right doing it one bit at a time like that were so low,” Spicer said. “The first peripheral people bought for [the Honeywell] was a teletype so they could speak to it.”

Now try to imagine all that in late 1960s kitchen. A full H316 system wouldn’t have fit in most kitchens, says design historian Paul Atkinson of Britain’s Sheffield Halam University. Plus, it would have looked entirely out of place. The thought that an average person, like a housewife, could have used it to streamline chores like cooking or bookkeeping was ridiculous, even if she aced the two-week programming course included in the $10,600 price tag.

If the lady of the house wanted to build her family’s dinner around broccoli, she’d have to code in the green veggie as 0001101000. The kitchen computer would then suggest foods to pair with broccoli from its database by “speaking” its recommendations as a series of flashing lights. Think of a primitive version of KITT, without the sexy voice.

Before the iPad, There Was the Honeywell Kitchen Computer

Rolmonica "pocket player piano" from 1930s Johnson Smith Catalog (Video)

Berjont says: "This 1928 Rolmonica is a Harmonica in a bakelite (plastic wasn't invented yet) case that works on the same principle as the old player pianos. It has a paper scroll inside the case that you manually crank as you blow (or suck air) through the mouthpiece."


Johnson Smith Catalog Item #27: Rolmonica (Thanks, Paul Di Filippo!)