Boing Boing • Our favorite posts of 2012

Lockdown: The coming war on general-purpose computing

By Cory Doctorow

The shape of the copyright wars clues us into an upcoming fight over the destiny of the general-purpose computer itself. When it comes to political influence and computing freedom, intellectual property is only the beginning.

For Aileen

By Xeni Jardin

There is so much to say about what a beautiful soul Aileen was, what a cruel and ugly and brutal disease breast cancer is, how torturous treatment is, how unjust the financial devastation a diagnosis brings to so many women is—and, most of all, what it means to those of us with cancer to have support in our lives.

The Honeybees are Still Dying

By Hannah Nordhaus

Dramatic headlines announced that the matter was closed: “Disappearing Bees: Solved!” announced a Reuters headline. Ah, if only that were true. Even if neonicotinoids were banned tomorrow, honeybees would still be in big trouble. The eerie mystery of the vanishing honeybees has not been put to rest.

The Mixtape Lost at Antikythera

By Rob Beschizza

Newly-discovered fragments of correspondence, written mostly on paper or papyrus, between the astronomer and geographer Hipparchos of Rhodes and various personages of the classical Eastern Mediterranean, shed new light on the origins of a complex pre-modern mechanism.

The Turn of the Screw

By Maggie Koerth-Baker

The Double Helix is a famous book. It's also an infamous one. Written by James Watson in 1968, it tells the story of how he and Francis Crick figured out the structure of DNA. The catch is that Watson chose to write that story in what was, at the time, a damn-near unprecedented way.

Oliver Sacks' Hallucinations

By Mark Frauenfelder

Dr. Sacks' books explore the human mind, usually through studying abnormal minds and the surprising clues they offer about perception, consciousness, and behavior. Sacks himself has face blindness, Asperger's syndrome, and is slightly deaf, which might explain in part why matters of the human mind are of great interest to him.

What it's like to be on Jeopardy

By Glenn Fleishman

A spam filter almost scotched my chance to be on television. I was scanning through the usual detritus of offers in July 2011 to enhance body parts and transfer large sums of money from people in distant lands, and spotted this subject line: "Jeopardy! Contestant Audition in Seattle"

Hauntologists mine the past for music's future

By Mark Pilkington

What was once a dim memory, a wobbly VHS tape, or a slice of warped vinyl, has become a towering digital midden so huge that it threatens to impede our view of the future. The past is placed on display for anyone to watch, hear, or read in an instant.

A Season in Hell

By Mark Dery

Abdominal surgery begets scar tissue. Which gives rise to adhesions. Which sometimes cause bowel obstructions. Which may necessitate surgery. Which begets more scar tissue, which...

Liberating America's secret, for-pay laws

By Carl Malamud

Did you know that vital parts of the US law are secret, and you're only allowed to read them if you pay a standards body thousands of dollars for the right to find out what the law of the land is?

The Coming Civil War over General Purpose Computing

By Cory Doctorow

Even if we win the right to own and control our computers, a dilemma remains: what rights do owners owe users? Property rights and human rights often represent divergent interests, and, increasingly, we will be users of computers that we don't own.

Fissure opens in chess AI scene

By Rob Beschizza

A dust-up in the Chess computer business shows how traditional ideas of plagiarism blur when a development community is built around a set of technical problems so specific that it's hard to avoid following the leader—and where open source is a risky place to put cutting-edge ideas.

Why official spokespeople should be named by journalists

Heather Brooke

Official spokespeople, by the very definition of their role, have absolutely no reason to be anonymous. Yet one of the more dubious practices of the British press is the way reporters collude with officials by granting them anonymity.

Twitter's early-bird special on censorship

By Rob Beschizza

Silicon Valley is learning the lesson that if you sell yourself on virtue, the business will make you eat your words. Twitter's U-turn on censorship teaches it another one: if you take credit for what activists do with your tools, you'll end up eating their words, too.

Beware officials who hide behind the veil—and those who let them

By Cory Doctorow

When we think of journalists' anonymous sources, we think of whistleblowers, of people ready to risk everything to expose wrongdoing or settle a score. Their ranks should not include officials whose job it is to talk, but who insist on avoiding accountability.

Why the fedora grosses out geekdom

By Leigh Alexander

The fedora is the go-to accessory for entitled male nerds whose resentment simmers on dating sites and social networks. But why wouldn’t they cling to a emblem from a bygone age, when impressing women had little to do with gaining their approval?

A medal for completing breast cancer treatment

By Xeni Jardin

I am damaged. I am a different person. I occupy a body and mind that are drastically and permanently altered. I am just beginning to learn how to recover. Every imaginable aspect of my life has changed. But damn, it feels good to be alive.

Music Appreciation: Drone

By Marcus Boon

For many people, a drone wouldn't even be called music, just an irritating noise, like the buzzing of a refrigerator, the hum of traffic, the sound of bees in a hive. For others, it is OMMMM, the sound of the universe in Hindu cosmology, or, put in the language of modern physics, an expression of the fact that everything vibrates, everything is a wave.

XOXO: Maker Love, Not Thwart

By Glenn Fleishman

I have fallen in love with a building, hundreds of people, a MakerBot, a portable toilet trailer, food trucks, and two men each named Andy. Is it possible to fall in love with a conference? If so, I have. The organizers named the conference XOXO for hugs and kisses. This was presented without hipster irony or marketing-speak. They meant it. They delivered.

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

By Glenn Fleishman

Roboto is a bespoke sans-serif font, created by a Google employee and used throughout Android’s user interface (UI) as part of the larger user experience (UX) overhaul. The intent is to make Android more intuitive, cohesive, and fluid, and work better on a variety of screen sizes, especially tablets.

Machines that Made the Jet Age

By Tim Heffernan

When Germany surrendered, the Soviets took their best forging facilities. In so doing they got a head start on the Cold War race for supersonic air superiority, and unwitting set in motion a larger, and largely forgotten, industrial revolution that shaped the second half of the 20th century

How a fantasy novel transformed into a covert CIA op

By DJ Pangburn

During the Iran hostage crisis, American diplomats fled to the Canadian Embassy. The CIA concocts an incredible cover story to get them home: they're a film crew scouting locations for an epic sci-fi movie. But they need a core prop, fast: a convincing screenplay.

Every audiophile review ever

By Rob Beschizza

Available in walnut, cherrywood, and as a Riesling.

I Have Your Heart

By Molly Crabapple, Kim Boekbinder and Jim Bat

We're proud to present an animated short by New York illustrator Molly Crabapple, international rockstar Kim Boekbinder, and Melbourne animator Jim Batt. It's the story of a good girl with a bad heart and the boy whose death will save her life.

Nexus 7: a perfect, low-cost, rugged, easy tablet

By Cory Doctorow

My family's taken Google Nexus 7 Tablets on trips, dropped them dozens of times, used them at home, work, and on holiday. The unanimous verdict is that these are just delightful little tablets.

What it's like at CES

By Rob Beschizza

CES is 100,000 anxious people pacing around Vegas in January, looking at electronics that are mostly under glass; attending meetings; and not getting enough done. Finding something to write about in The Forest of Televisions often seems impossible, but there are always gems to be found, deals to be cut, and copy desks to be fed. So off we go, every year.

Ten entertainment things worth anticipating in 2013

By Jamie Frevele

Good news: There is going to be a 2013 after all, and tons of cool stuff is coming in the way of entertainment. Here are ten of the coolest things hitting screens big and small next year.

4chan gets real about software

By Dean Putney

4chan, the Internet's long-time dumping ground and butt of many a joke, is getting serious about software. With a maturing userbase and new developers in-house, the hugely successful image board is making its biggest public-facing code changes in nearly a decade.

Eagle Scouts stand up to the Boy Scouts of America

By Maggie Koerth-Baker

When Eagle Scouts start returning their medals to the Boy Scouts of America, that matters. Especially when these men are making this decision because they think it's the best way to demonstrate the values of being an Eagle Scout.

 

Robert Anton Wilson Week on Boing Boing

By Mark Frauenfelder

What do Christian fundamentalists have against set theory?

By Maggie Koerth-Baker

HOWTO make a cocktail that looks like outer space

Cory Doctorow

Clint Heidorn's "The Oak Tree" exquisitely-packaged cassette

By David Pescovitz

My Dinner with Marijuana: chemo, cannabis, and haute cuisine

By Xeni Jardin

Nazi rules for jazz performers

By Cory Doctorow

The only good abortion is my abortion

By Maggie Koerth-Baker

Exclusive: New track from ex-Throbbing Gristle's forthcoming Final Report

By David Pescovitz

Skull drill set from the 18th century

By David Pescovitz

Stella Im Hultberg: exclusive preview of new paintings

By David Pescovitz

Five animated mashups we might desperately need

By Jamie Frevele

Amazing underwater experience

By Jason Weisberger

Positive pregnancy test diagnoses man's cancer

By Maggie Koerth-Baker

Massive drug control spending has no effect on addiction rate

By Mark Frauenfelder

My smiley face business card party game

By Dean Putney

What is this language game my daughter and her friends speak?

By Mark Frauenfelder

Headphones I use daily

By Jason Weisberger

Ransom & Mitchell's phantasmagoric photo narratives, San Francisco show

By David Pescovitz

Meet the people who keep your lights on

By Maggie Koerth-Baker

The Last Policeman: solving a murder before an asteroid wipes out life on Earth

By Mark Frauenfelder

Blackout: What's wrong with the American grid:

By Maggie Koerth-Baker

The Send Wonder project

By Jason Weisberger

We left the moon 40 years ago today. Will we ever return?

By Miles O'Brien

Prions and Twitter

By Maggie Koerth-Baker

Gweek 074: Lost at Sea with Jon Ronson

By Mark Frauenfelder

The most disgusting trading cards ever made

By Mark Frauenfelder

My favorite Museum Exhibit

By Maggie Koerth-Baker

Interview with astronaut Rex Walheim

By Maggie Koerth-Baker

Tom Gauld's Goliath: exclusive excerpt

By Mark Frauenfelder

Bill Nye slams creationism

By Jason Weisberger

Yet another reason why I love Gravity Falls

By Mark Frauenfelder

When life hands you cancer, make cancer-ade

By Xeni Jardin

Breaking Bad: Xeni air-drops into the best viewing party in the world

By Xeni Jardin

Interview with Meave and Richard Leakey

By Maggie Koerth-Baker