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Bong Bong

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While traveling in Mumbai, my IFTF colleague Jason Tester visited Boing Boing's flagship marijuana dispensary.

Apps for Kids podcast on CNN


Hot on the heels of our NPR interview, My daughter Jane and I were interviewed on CNN about our podcast about cool smartphone apps for kids and parents called Apps for Kids.

Holiday travel for parents

Periodic table as 3D paper sculpture

Theodore Gray sends news of this beautiful three-dimensional papercraft Periodic Table of Elements.
The Alexander Arrangement is a three-dimensional paper sculpture of the periodic table designed by Roy Alexander, with whom I collaborated on this version. For the first time this clever form of the table has been combined with my photographs of real element samples, resulting in a quite lovely object. (...)

The Alexander Arrangement deals with the fundamental problem of gaps in the traditional arrangement of the periodic table by wrapping the transition metals and the lanthanides/actinides into loops, so all the elements that are supposed to be next to each other actually are next to each other. You can read it as a complete spiral loop through all the elements without any gaps.

The table is printed on top-grade, heavy paper printed on both sides, and includes detailed instructions for assembly. The result is a sturdy object you can carry around, put on a table, hang as a mobile, or, if you're like me, use as a tree-topper for a festive seasonal science tree.

"It takes about 10 minutes to put together if you don't read the instructions," Theodore tells us. "No idea how long if you do read them, that's not the kind of thing I would stoop to."

The radioactive wake of your Smartphone

Kiera Butler at Mother Jones wrote a fantastic piece on the radioactive components of your phone and what it took to source them. You may not be surprised by what she uncovers but you certainly will not be happy with what you learn! "My phone's shady past, it turned out, began long before it was assembled in a Chinese factory. The elements used to power all our high-tech gadgets come from a very dirty industry in which rich nations extract the good stuff from the earth—and leave poor countries to clean up the mess." (Thanks Sean!) Jason

Black Friday, Texas style: Mall shopper who pulled gun on line-cutter "within rights," say cops

The San Antonio Express-News reports that a mall shopper who brandished a handgun on a dude trying to cut in line was within his rights, according to police, because he had a permit for the weapon and was using it in self-defense.

San Antonio police officers were called to the Sears location around 9pm on Thanksgiving Day, before the turkey was even cold, in response to a call about a shooting.

Read the rest

What Disneyland's "awkward transitions" teach us about signaling changes with physical cues


On Passport to Dreams Old and New, FoxxFur continues her unbroken record for highlighting insightful, deep design truths by examining the minutae of the design and evolution of the Disney theme parks. In the current post, "The Awkward Transitions of Disneyland!", she looks at the way that the designers of Disneyland managed their space-constraints when butting up one themed area against another (comparing this with the much more spacious, and relaxed, transitions in Walt Disney World). By reconstructing the history of these transitions, she's able to reconstruct the history of the theory and practice of using physical cues to signal mood-transitions in built environments.

I seriously can't wait for FoxxFur to write a book about this stuff some day.

Disneyland built things where it could, and so very often buildings are dropped down perfunctorily, only very rarely placed to achieve any specific pictorial effect. Depending on where you are, there can be three levels of themed design occurring around you on different registers. This makes Disneyland visually dense while retaining a somewhat prosaic thematic effect. This is what people mean when they say Disneyland is charming: it's a massive pile of ideas slammed down, one atop the other, with very little room to spare. This means that it's very common to find areas where one kind of texture or surface treatment just ends because it collides with another. This is what I mean when I say Disneyland is naive....

...What you're seeing here more closely resembles a movie set than a theme park - which makes perfect sense since this is the first theme park and it was built by Hollywood craftsmen. Harper Goff designed sets for Warner's Midsummer Night's Dream and Casablanca. Marvin Davis worked for 20th Century Fox. The key concept in film production design is the ability of the camera to exclude certain objects from view; Disneyland's early scenery resembles a movie lot more than a modern theme park. It would be several years before WED Enterprises learned how to design for the human eye instead of the camera eye.

The Awkward Transitions of Disneyland!