Boing Boing 

Search engine for the full text and descriptions of every Calvin and Hobbes script

The Calvin & Hobbes Search Engine performs pretty much as you'd expect: it's a search engine that runs against the full text and descriptions of all the Calvin and Hobbes strips. For example, a search for "snowman" returns,

Mom is sitting at the table when Calvin walks by dressed in his coat and hat. Puzzled, Mom goes upstairs and opens the bedroom door. There, she finds Calvin has opened the window letting snow into the room. Calvin is working on a snowman. Mom just covers her face.

and several others. Handy!

Calvin & Hobbes Search Engine - by Bing (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Protesting dairy farmers hose down EuroParl and cops with milk

Dairy farmers protesting in Brussels sprayed thousands of litres of milk on the European Parliament and its police cadre. Shown here, a small thumbnail of a remarkable photo by John Thys for AFP/Getty Images. Click through for the full image, on the Telegraph's site.

Dairy farmers spray milk at the European Parliament in Brussels

Project Neon: 800 neon signs in New York City

Ben Marks of Collector's Weekly says: "We just published an interview with Kirsten Hively, whose Project Neon documents about 800 neon signs in New York City (her iPhone app directs users to about 120 of them)."

I’ve loved neon signs for a long time. When I would travel to cities like Portland or Chicago, I would take photos of neon signs and print them to hang up on my wall. Two years ago, I read that it was the 100th anniversary of the debut of the modern neon sign at the Paris Motor Show. It struck me then that I didn’t have a single photo of neon signs in New York. I think I took it for granted that I could see those signs any day. But those classic signs aren’t necessarily permanent.

At the time, I had just started a new job on the Upper East Side, in a neighborhood I’d never spent much time in. Getting out of work at 5 p.m., it was pitch-black outside. So I thought, “Maybe I’ll go take photos of those nice signs near my office”—at the Cork & Bottle liquor store and Goldberger’s Pharmacy. I figured I’d walk around the neighborhood. I vaguely remembered another up on 86th Street, at Papaya King. After I found that one, I ended up walking for hours and hours—and taking so many photos. Later, I went home and put them up on my Flickr.

A couple nights later, I went out to the Upper West Side and spent even more hours wandering around. I didn’t get to everything, but I got obsessive about taking photos of neon signs and marking where they were. When I had searched for other people’s photos of neon signs online, often the caption wouldn’t say where the image was taken. So I tried to be careful about always documenting the address of the place.

Neon Lost and Found: Where New York City Still Burns Bright

Gweek 077: Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Chef

Tim Ferriss is a broad-spectrum enthusiast, and his sense of curiosity drives him to learn about and participate in a dizzyingly large number of activities.

David and I interviewed Tim Ferriss, author of the new book The 4-Hour Chef. This is Tim's third book. He's also the author of: The 4-Hour Workweek, and The 4-Hour Body.

Tim is a broad-spectrum enthusiast and his sense of curiosity drives him to learn about and participate in a dizzyingly large number of activities. He’s developed a system of sorts to quickly pick up enough skills and knowledge to understand, participate in, and appreciate crafts and practices such as learning languages, game hunting, martial arts, body building, tango dancing, and startup investment. His latest book, The 4-Hour Chef, reflects Tim’s interest in the culinary arts, but more importantly, it describes how Tim goes about learning new skills in a way that others can use to pursue their own interests.

We talked about many things, including smart drugs, the Paleo Diet vs the Slow Carb Diet, and a strange experience in China.

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Danish entrepreneur helps people with autism get jobs that require focus, attention to detail

Gareth Cook tells the story of Thorkil Sonne, founder of a Danish social enterprise called Specialisterne ("the specialists"), which helps place people with autism in jobs that demand a degree of focus and detail-orientation that's impossible to find among the neurotypical. Specialisterne began because Sonne's son, Lars, has autism, and Sonne saw that he was eminently suited to many tasks, and that performing them made him happy and did useful work, too. Now Specialisterne is a web of social enterprises that does everything from training to placement, and Sonne is pondering a move to the USA.

To his father, Lars seemed less defined by deficits than by his unusual skills. And those skills, like intense focus and careful execution, were exactly the ones that Sonne, who was the technical director at a spinoff of TDC, Denmark’s largest telecommunications company, often looked for in his own employees. Sonne did not consider himself an entrepreneurial type, but watching Lars — and hearing similar stories from parents he met volunteering with an autism organization — he slowly conceived a business plan: many companies struggle to find workers who can perform specific, often tedious tasks, like data entry or software testing; some autistic people would be exceptionally good at those tasks. So in 2003, Sonne quit his job, mortgaged the family’s home, took a two-day accounting course and started a company called Specialisterne, Danish for “the specialists,” on the theory that, given the right environment, an autistic adult could not just hold down a job but also be the best person for it.

The Autism Advantage [NYT] (via Kottke)

TechDirt schools a copyfraudster who tried to censor a critical post with copyright threats

TechDirt got a malformed takedown notice from Human Synergistics International, a company they'd previously written up for sending copyright threats to a blogger who quoted four sentences from a "human factors training" exercise. The original TechDirt post quotes the four sentences at issue, and this prompted Human Synergistics' lawyer to send a ham-fisted threat to TechDirt as well.

TechDirt's Mike Masnick proceeded to thoroughly, mercilessly demolish this nonsense, in its every aspect and element, and took care to remind Human Synergistics, and its counsel, of the potential penalties for sending out baseless copyright threats. Masnick, of course, is the man who coined the term "Streisand Effect." You'd think that HS and its lawyer would have had a bit more common sense, but the urge to commit copyfraud is a powerful one.

Finally, the last factor is "the effect of your use upon the potential market for the copyrighted work." It's important to note here, (again referencing back to the Campbell case) that the courts are clear here that they are not addressing whether or not the criticism harms the market, but whether or not the direct use harms the market. We freely admit that our criticism of your despicable copyright practices may lead organizations to think twice about doing business with your company. But, as the Supreme Court noted, while "a scathing theater review kills demand for the original, it does not produce a harm cognizable under the Copyright Act." In our case, the specific use of the text clearly does not harm the potential for your market, because we were not using it in a competitive manner at all. No one would read our post and use that to administer the exercise in question.

It's that last point that is the most bizarre in all of this. The original blog post, by Patti O'Shea, which we were commenting upon, said nothing negative about your organization or the exercise, which she seemed to enjoy. Most reasonable persons would actually have read it as an endorsement of the exercise itself, which would reflect well on you and could lead more people to wish to hire your organization or license the specific exercise details. Thus, the end result of your bizarre copyright extremism is that you caused a blog post that would likely drive more business for you to be disappeared from the internet. In response, you received criticism from us. And, rather than change your ways, you have now dug yourself an even bigger hole by threatening us with what appears to be a clearly bogus threat. So you have gone from one mostly positive blog post to an increasing series of negative blog posts criticizing your activities.

It is unclear how that series of responses from you furthers Human Synergistics' business interests, which must be a part of your job.

Open Letter To Human Synergistics International In Response To Your Accusation That Techdirt Is Infringing

Tolkien superfan Stephen Colbert will do an entire Hobbit-themed week of shows

To celebrate the release of The Hobbit, Stephen Colbert will have a full week of Hobbit shows on The Colbert Report starting this coming Monday, December 3 on Comedy Central. A die-hard fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, his guest lineup will consist of Sir Ian McKellan, Martin Freeman, Peter Jackson, and Andy Serkis. Other Hobbit-related segments or plans have not been revealed yet, but I'm going to guess that Colbert (who speaks some Elvish and filmed a cameo for one of the latter two movies in New Zealand) will walk away with some sweet swag. Like swords or a free elf!

Photo credit: The Colbert Report on Twitter

(via Spinoff Online)

Bad taxidermy is good


Stacey Ransom points us to this delightful collection of terrifically bad taxidermy!

Bill Murray describes the last time he saw Gilda Radner

Gilda Radner was in the news this week -- because she wasn't considered "news" enough for some of the affiliates of Gilda's Club. That story had a less sad ending than originally thought, with only a small number of Clubs dropping Gilda's name and not the organization as a whole. But in an attempt to keep Gilda's relevance alive, here is a very heartwarming story told by Bill Murray, her friend and former Saturday Night Live castmate, about the last time the two saw each other at a party thrown by Laraine Newman. It's not a new story, but it's a nice one worth sharing (and remembering):

Read the rest

Bradley Manning's pre-trial hearing: live-blogging, live-tweeting, and live-sketching

Bradley Manning (by Clark Stoeckley)

Kevin Gosztola is liveblogging the pre-trial hearing of suspected Wikileaks source Bradley Manning at Ft. Meade.

Also in the courtoom, the Guardian's Ed Pilkington, and Arun Rath of Frontline/PRI's The World, both of whom live-tweeted the proceedings today.

Artist Clark Stoeckley (@WikileaksTruck on Twitter) is also present, and is live-sketching. I like his coverage the best.

Read the rest

Die Antwoord: Ninja and the Parktown Prawn

Amateur entomologist Ninja of Die Antwoord sends Boing Boing this home video of an encounter with a Parktown Prawn. (Libanasidus vittatus), the bug that starred in their recent "Fatty Boom Boom" video. The appearance of this creature in Die Antwoord's very home was interpreted as a cosmic sign that Lady Gaga was in Africa. And indeed, she is, and there's a censorship controversy over Gaga's banning of news photographers from covering her concert in Johannesburg (and her ties to Satan).

Image: Wikipedia

Teasers for A&E's Bates Motel are creepy and short, so you should definitely watch them

(Video link) Well, color me optimistic. I really wasn't sure about A&E making a "prequel show" to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, but now I'm wondering if it's better to keep an open mind. Because these two teaser trailers are delightfully spooky, with tiny, amuse-bouche amounts of suspense packed into about 15 seconds each. Enough to pique my interest, at least, but I'll let you decide for yourself. The second teaser is after the jump.

Read the rest

Everything you eat is associated with cancer, but don't worry about it

Image: Shutterstock. Fried chicken gave the model in this stock photo cancer of the double chin.

Sarah Kliff at the Washington Post digs into new research out today from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. She writes about correlation and causality, and how to read statistics more intelligently.


“I was constantly amazed at how often claims about associations of specific foods with cancer were made, so I wanted to examine systematically the phenomenon,” e-mails study author John Ioannidis ”I suspected that much of this literature must be wrong. What we see is that almost everything is claimed to be associated with cancer, and a large portion of these claims seem to be wrong indeed.”

Among the ingredients in question for their purported relation to cancer risk: veal, salt, pepper spice, flour, egg, bread, pork, butter, tomato, lemon, duck, onion, celery, carrot, parsley, mace, sherry, olive, mushroom, tripe, milk, cheese, coffee, bacon, sugar, lobster, potato, beef, lamb, mustard, nuts, wine, peas, corn, cinnamon, cayenne, orange, tea, rum, and raisin.

Now: combine all of them into one recipe and do the study again, I say.

Burning Man 2013 theme announced

And the theme is....

"Cargo Cult."

* Image: Theme by Larry Harvey, text by Larry Harvey and Stuart Mangrum, illustration by "DA" Dominic Tinio

Watch Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang blow up a 40-foot pine tree in DC's National Mall, because art

In what is probably one of the first-ever planned explosions on DC's National Mall, Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang will blow up a 40-foot pine tree to commemorate of the Sackler Gallery’s 25th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the Art in Embassies program. Watch it live. From Washington City Paper:

Using 2,000 firework-like explosives, Guo-Qiang will take the pine tree through three pyrotechnic stages: The tree will first be covered in yellow and white sparkles of light. The lights will spread throughout the tree, simulating twinkling Christmas lights. Then the tree will explode in a cloud of black smoke, leaving a “negative” smoke image that resembles a Chinese ink painting drifting off into the wind. The idea is for the tree-shaped smoke to create the image of two trees—as seen in Guo-Qiang’s sketch.
More at the website for the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of Asian art. For some stupid reason, they've blocked the ability to embed the live video, so you'll have to mosey on over to the Smithsonian website directly to watch the explosion webcast.

How to eat a corn in 10 seconds

how to eat a corn in 10 seconds via reddit's "Learn Useless Talents" section

Button making kit for kids

In this short video, Jane shows how to use the Sukie Button Factory to make fabric-covered buttons (also known as badges). The kit comes with a sheet of fabric and 25 metal snap-together buttons.

The first-ever convention celebrating Community is taking place in February!

Attention Community fans who live in or are willing to visit the Los Angeles area: CommuniCon, the first convention devoted entirely to the excellent (but neglected) show is taking place February 9-10, 2013 at Los Angeles City College, where they happen to shoot a lot of exteriors for the show! (Not to be confused with CommuniCon, Inc.) Some of the details have yet to be decided on, but Dan Harmon and the cast are expected to be in attendance. Also worth mentioning: Community is returning to NBC on Thursday, February 7 at 8:00 PM, its old time slot (replacing 30 Rock)! News I missed while I waited for my power to come back on after Hurricane Sandy, but better a whole entire month late than never! (via CommuniCon Tumblr)

XKCD on cancer, and commemorating a biopsy-versary

Today's edition of the webcomic XKCD rings true for me, as I'll be marking the one-year mark from my own diagnosis tomorrow. Randall, much respect. I wish both of you the best.

Hubble Space Telescope Advent calendar

Starting tomorrow, you can visit the Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar for daily pictures of the cosmos.

Coming soon: Dinosaur hotel

A Best Western in Denver is set to begin a remodeling project that will turn it into a dinosaur-themed wonderland. (Via Alexandra Witze)

Real shell as iPhone loudspeaker

Earlier this month, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design kindly brought me out to meet with grad students and attend the annual MCAD Art Sale where I was happily overwhelmed with a fantastic collection of student and recent graduates' work at affordable prices. Within minutes of walking in, I was drawn to two pieces at opposite ends of the building. The first was a painting created by a CNC milling machine outfitted with a pen. (That painting and its brethren in the series will be the subject of a later post here.) The second piece is what you can see above, the Shellphone Loudspeaker. Amazingly, it turned out that both the CNC painting and the Shellphone were created by the same young artist/designer/maker, Andrew Vomhof. The Shellphone Loudspeaker, made by Andrew with collaborator Karl Zinsmaster, is absolutely wonderful and I purchased one immediately. It's a real Whelk shell hand-carved to perfectly sit an iPhone (4 or 5). The shell acts as a natural amplifier for the iPhone's speakers.

Now, this thing doesn't come close to the output of powered speakers. Duh. But it does increase the volume quite a bit and layers the sound with a subtly echoey and organic vibe. But that isn't really the point. It's a wonderful curiosity at the intersection of nature, art, and technology. And it's beautiful to boot. Vomhof and Zinsmaster have launched a Kickstarter to bring their prototype design into full production. Pledge $60 and, if they hit their goal of $10,000, you'll receive your own Shellphone Loudspeaker early next year.

Shellphone Loudspeaker

How monoculture farming changes biodiversity

This image, taken by artist David Liittschwager shows the plants and animals collected in a square meter of South African public park over the course of 24 hours.

This image, from National Public Radio, illustrates the plants and animals found over the course of two nights and three days in an Iowa cornfield.

Robert Krulwich has a fascinating piece about the ways food systems affect ecological systems. How efficient is too efficient?

Via On Earth

Imagine a world in which Nicolas Cage is in every movie ever made

(Video link) It feels like Nicolas Cage is in every single movie, but he actually isn't! He's just in quite a few of them, and I commend him for keeping busy. But what if he really did make his way into some of our most beloved movies? Through the magic of editing, Pleated Jeans has inserted Mr. Cage into a selection of classic movies so we can, for a short time, imagine how much better everything would be with him in it. Because My Girl? Such a downer. But not with Nicolas Cage. (via Flavorwire)

A dreadful hoax!

This rang true to me. The education system I was put through did exactly this... (The South Park-ish style also made me smile.)

The wild rivers above California

Atmospheric rivers are meteorological phenomenon that we humans only discovered in 1998 and which supply about 30-to-50 percent of California's annual precipitation. In the NOAA satellite image above, the atmospheric river is visible as a thin yellow arm, reaching out from the Pacific to touch California. Or, more evocatively, reaching out to slap California silly with a gushing downpour.

An atmospheric river is a narrow conveyor belt of vapor about a mile high that extends thousands of miles from out at sea and can carry as much water as 15 Mississippi Rivers. It strikes as a series of storms that arrive for days or weeks on end. Each storm can dump inches of rain or feet of snow.

The real scare, however, is that truly massive atmospheric rivers that cause catastrophic flooding seem to hit the state about once every 200 years, according to evidence recently pieced together (and described in the article noted above). The last megaflood was in 1861; rains arrived for 43 days, obliterating Sacramento and bankrupting the state.

As you might guess, climate change is also involved. Evidence suggests that warming global temperatures could increase the frequency of atmospheric rivers. That, combined with the 200-year event expected soon and the fact we're learning so much much more about these storms, means that you should expect to hear the phrase "atmospheric river" more often.

Scientific American has two interesting stories on the phenomenon right now. The first, which I quote from above, is a blog post by Mark Fischetti. The second is a much longer feature story that gets into the forces that cause these storms and the climate change connection.

The social science of Middle Earth

The Lord of the Rings Project collects and analyzes data on all the characters inhabiting Middle Earth, to produce statistical comparisons of life expectancy, age distribution, population, and more.

Realistic chocolate baby-heads

The evil bakers at Eat Your Heart Out showcase these custom-made, specially commissioned hyper-realistic chocolate baby heads, suitable for an infanticidal feast. They won't say who commissioned 'em, but I'm guessing whomever it is has plans for a hell of an office Christmas party.

A private commission (that’s all we can say), they are solid white chocolate baby heads, and the same size as the head of your average newborn baby. They also TERRIFY me! As I was tweeting earlier there is something SO disturbing about these heads but I just can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s as they have no body, or maybe it’s just as they are a baby’s head?!? Either way I am so proud to be heading up a movement which leads to the creation of amazing edible works of art just like these. We’ll be using them in a project very soon I am sure!!!

Hyper Realistic Solid Chocolate Baby Heads! MUST SEE!!! (via Super Punch)

Judge considers unusual plea deal for accused WikiLeaks source Manning

The Associated Press has details on the unusual plea deal being considered in the case of Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of passing classified documents to Wikileaks.
On Thursday, a military judge, Col. Denise Lind, accepted the terms under which Private Manning would plead guilty to eight charges for sending classified documents to WikiLeaks.

The judge’s ruling does not mean the pleas have been formally accepted. That could happen in December.

But she approved the language of the offenses to which Private Manning would admit, which she said would carry a total maximum prison term of 16 years.

Private Manning made the offer as a way of accepting responsibility for the leaks. Government officials have not said whether they would continue prosecuting him for the other 14 counts he faces, including aiding the enemy. That offense carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Read more.

Julian Assange on WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, and new Julian Assange book

Democracy Now has an interview with Julian Assange, speaking from inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has been holed up for about six months. Assange speaks about his new book, "Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet," about the EU ruling that credit card companies did not commit a crime in blocking payment to Wikileaks. And, Bradley Manning's pre-trial hearing.