Welcome to Your Awesome Robot is a fantastic book for maker-kids and their grownups. It consists of a charming series of instructional comics showing a little girl and her mom converting a cardboard box into an awesome robot -- basically a robot suit that the kid can wear. It builds in complexity, adding dials, gears, internal chutes and storage, brightly colored warning labels and instructional sheets for attachment to the robot's chassis.
More than that, it encourages you to "think outside the box" (ahem), by adding everything from typewriter keys to vacuum hoses to shoulder-straps to your robot, giving the kinds of cues that will set your imagination reeling. For master robot builders, it includes a tear-out set of workshop rules for respectfully sharing robot-building space with other young makers, and certificates of robot achievement. I read this one to Poesy last night at bedtime, and today we're on the lookout for cardboard boxes to robotify. It's a fantastic, inspiring read!
You can get a great preview of the book at NoBrow. It's out in the UK now, and it comes out in the US next month.
Welcome to your Awesome Robot by Viviane Schwarz [NoBrow]
Welcome to your Awesome Robot [Amazon UK]
Welcome to your Awesome Robot [Amazon US - pre-order]
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sez, "The BBC have produced a radio play
of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere
with a host of great British actors. Sounds exactly like you want it to sound."
FabCafe, a 3D printed confectioner in Shibuya, Tokyo, is offering nine lucky blokes the chance to have their bodies 3D scanned and rendered in gummi, the most wondrously magical of all the edible substances. It's in honor of White Day, the Japanese give-your-female-lover-a-present holiday on March 14 (they also did custom chocolate-lollies of one's 3D scanned head for V-Day). These are so amazingly amazing and they point the way to a future where cheap scanners will render entire rooms as voxels to be output in gummi, wherein you can pay to be encased while you slowly, deliciously eat your way out. Coming soon to a Shibuya Love Hotel near you (maybe).
Chew on this: FabCafe lets you create a gummy replica of yourself for White Day
Today is International Woman's Day, and the Africa-focused NGO Mama Hope
has released a timely video PSA on the women's art of netball.
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Happy Mutant (and EFF-Austin co-founder) Jon Lebkowsky has a great piece in the new Austin Chronicle about Aaron Swartz, privacy, copyright, and the future of computers:
It's an odd predicament, seeing your customer as the enemy. Attempts by the music industry to protect its control of distribution have risked alienation of a customer base that has a multiplicity of channels for free and low-cost alternatives via cyberspace, including a bazillion "Internet radio" channels; online services like Pandora, Last.FM, and Spotify; savvy artists distributing their own tunes online; and, of course, various file-sharing sites like the Pirate Bay. Even with the "pirate" sources out of the way, record labels would be hurting, because they no longer control distribution. The same is true for all media. Distribution channels are more ad hoc, product is abundant, it's cheap or free, and competition for whatever dollars are still flowing is fierce.
Invaluable Information: Technology, privacy, hacking, and legislating in the new digital age - Screens - The Austin Chronicle
Anita Sarkeesian has released the long-awaited first installment in her new, improved "Tropes vs Women in Video Games" series. Sarkeesian sought $6,000 on Kickstarter to produce slicker versions of her earlier, DIY series, and she was smeared by vile, angry gamer-dudes who created games where you could beat the crap out of her for the sin of identifying as a feminist and daring to question the portrayal of gender in games. The happy ending to this shameful episode is that her Kickstarter became a good-people vs goons plebiscite, and would up raising $158,922.
The first installment is "Damsels in Distress," and is a smart, well-researched, wonderfully presented history of the woman-waiting-for-a-hero trope through gaming history. It's just in time for International Women's Day, and is a wonderful kickoff for a new series.
Damsel in Distress: Part 1 - Tropes vs Women in Video Games
Associated Press business reporter Pamela Simpson wrote a terrible obit for Huge Chavez, writing
Chavez invested Venezuela’s oil wealth into social programs including state-run food markets, cash benefits for poor families, free health clinics and education programs. But those gains were meager compared with the spectacular construction projects that oil riches spurred in glittering Middle Eastern cities, including the world’s tallest building in Dubai and plans for branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums in Abu Dhabi.
Jim Naureckas has an appropriately scathing response:
In case you're curious about what kind of results this kooky agenda had, here's a chart (NACLA, 10/8/12) based on World Bank poverty stats–showing the proportion of Venezuelans living on less than $2 a day falling from 35 percent to 13 percent over three years. (For comparison purposes, there's a similar stat for Brazil, which made substantial but less dramatic progress against poverty over the same time period.)
Of course, during this time, the number of Venezuelans living in the world's tallest building went from 0 percent to 0 percent, while the number of copies of the Mona Lisa remained flat, at none. So you have to say that Chavez's presidency was overall pretty disappointing–at least by AP's standards.
AP: Chavez Wasted His Money on Healthcare When He Could Have Built Gigantic Skyscrapers
(via Making Light)
Many years ago I watched a standup comic on television explain that the President of the United States has no more control over the country than the bulldog hood ornament on a Mack Truck has in controlling where the truck goes. He was exaggerating but he had a point.
Neuroscientist David Eagleman has a similar argument about the human brain. Our conscious brain (our "I") is the tiny chrome bulldog, while our non-conscious brain is doing the driving. His highly-readable pop science book, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, offers dozens of persuasive examples to support the idea that our conscious brain is at the tip of our behavioral iceberg.
Here's a few questions Eagleman asks in Incognito:
Why can your foot jump halfway to the brake pedal before you become consciously aware of danger ahead? Why do strippers make more money at certain times of month, even while no one is consciously aware of their fertility level? Is there a true Mel Gibson? What do Odysseus and the subprime mortgage meltdown have in common? How is your brain like a conflicted democracy engaged in civil war? Why are people whose name begins with J more likely to marry other people whose name begins with J? Why is it so difficult to keep a secret? Why did Supreme Court Justice William Douglas deny that he was paralyzed?
Eagleman's answer to all of these questions is that the non-conscious brain is made up of many signal processors, honed by eons of evolution, that compete and cooperate with each other to make decisions that eventually make their way to the tip of the cognitive iceberg, where the "I" takes credit.
I think Eagleman is probably right, but I'm also the kind of person who is easily persuaded by attractively presented arguments and Eagleman, who is an accomplished fiction writer (see Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives) is a good story teller, so that has to be figured into my feeling that he's onto something. In any case, this was one of the most entertaining books about the brain that I've read.
Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain
An interview with David Eagleman, neuroscientist
David Eagleman: We live in the past…literally
Comic adaptation of David Eagleman story about the afterlife
Here's a slow, gentle, fascinating demonstration video for the Wedgetail slide-on camper, "built for rough Australian terrain." It's a pretty amazing feat of engineering, with lots of thoughtful features. But what really gets me is in the money shot where the whole thing opens up like some kind of origami trick. Big things hidden in little things! Hell yeah!
Wedgetail slide on camper demonstration
(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
Toronto's living shitshow of a mayor, Rob "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford, is back in the headlines. Sarah Thomson, the publisher of The Women's Post, who ran against Ford in the last election, claims that he came onto her at a Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee affair, grabbing her ass and saying, "[she] should have been in Florida with him last week because his wife wasn't there." According to Thomson, Ford was drunk and "out of it." He appears worse for wear in a soon-to-be-infamous photo with Thomson, in which he sports a stained shirt and a rather unflattering expression.
"He grabbed my ass and I'm thinking what the heck is going on with him? I was so mad about it because this is somebody who knows how much I do for this city," Thomson told radio host John Moore.
She said she told Ford's staff to remove him from the room.
"I went to his handlers and said, 'Get him out of here,'" she said.
Thomson said Ford "completely crossed the line" Thursday night.
"He needs help if he's doing that to someone like me," she said.
"What he said to me and what he did is wrong."
Rob Ford blasted by Sarah Thomson for alleged crude comment [Don Peat/Toronto Sun]
Jake Mohan's account of getting the plumbers in to repair a ghastly backed-up basement drain is a lovely, happy-ending tale of honest contractors, nice property developers, and the fascinating, invisible guts of your house:
Rick turned on the jackhammer, making the loudest noise I’ve ever heard indoors (and I’m a drummer). What’s truly crazy is that we didn’t actually know where the sewer line was underneath the floor—we were simply operating according to Rick’ educated guess. So once we’d punched through the concrete with the jackhammer and pounded it away with a sledgehammer and shoveled away the soil underneath, we had to dig down and back and forth in several directions—roughly the dimensions, I noted grimly, of the hole one might dig for a small coffin—tapping around gingerly with the shovel until we heard the telltale ping of the iron sewer main.
That’s when Tom returned with segments of PVC and cans of pungent, purple adhesive to fuse them together. In slightly more time than it would take me to change the aforementioned bike tire, Tom jumped into the hole, cut out a segment of 112-year-old cast-iron sewer pipe using a pipe snapper1 measured and cut a section of PVC with Y-joint for the cleanout, and attached this elegant new segment onto the old sewer line.
Tom then ran off again, but not before writing me an invoice for “work to resolve a non-conforming cleanout,” which made our plumbing sound like a goth kid.
Adventures At The Intersection of Homeownership And Sewage [Jake Mohan/The Billfold]
For the last two months, Viennese artist Andreas Franke has had a new show of photographs on exhibition near Barbados. Thing is, you needed to SCUBA dive to see them. The photos hung on the hull of the Stabrokikita, a 365-foot Greek freighter that was deliberately sunk in 1978. Franke's photos of Rococo-inspired scenes are superimposed with underwater photographs, adding an atmospheric surreality to the final image. Seemingly, viewing these images 120 feet underwater would add to their dreaminess. This is the second series in Franke's "Sinking World" project. His first collection of images were displayed earlier this year on the USS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a massive military ship that in 2009 was sunk to the ocean floor and became the second largest artificial reef in the world. Those photos have since been recovered and displayed at The Studios of Key West art gallery. "The Sinking World" (via CNN)
Every single thing on Sean Tejaratchi's blog
is magnificent 'shoop genius. Twitter: @shittingtonuk
It's International Women's Day today and the London Feminist Network (to whom I proudly belong) have organised the most awesome fundraising event for our conference later this year, a film launch for "Banners and Broad Arrows." In 1832 the women of the United Kingdom were excluded from the Parliamentary franchise. After 71 years this injustice remained. In 1903 the Women's Social and Political Union was formed. This is the story told through their own eyes.
A lecture by writer/director Nigel Shephard, who will be presenting his work so far on the film Banners and Broad Arrows. He tells the story of the Suffragette Movement from its inception in 1903 to its demise at the outbreak of war in 1914, using original still photographs taken by the Suffragettes themselves.
The really cool thing about this lecture is that there will be a whole load of pictures on display that have only recently been released from the Official Secrets Act. These never previously published photographs were smuggled out of Holloway prison by campaigners.
This is a great opportunity to discover the history of the suffragettes through their own photographs and to meet the director and share in developing ideas for the film. Please, please come along to demonstrate your support at this first fundraising event to take the film into full production. It's only £10 a ticket and all profits are being split equally between the film producer and the London Feminist Network."
THE KINGS HEAD THEATRE UPPER STREET ISLINGTON
7.30PM SUNDAY 24TH MARCH 2013
Banners and Broad Arrows - never before seen photographs of the suffragettes in Holloway prison