Boing Boing 

Lecture on stone-wall building, with miniature stone wall built

Brian sez, "My library hosted Kevin Gardner, a New Hampshire native and builder/restorer of traditional New England stone walls. He talked about the history of stone walls in New England, and how they shaped - and were shaped by - the landscape and circumstances of the region and country. I thought BoingBoing readers would be interested in the talk alone, but the bonus is that the entire time he's talking, he's also building a miniature stone wall from rocks he brought in two five-gallon buckets."

Chelmsford Library Anytime: Exhibits and Videos (Thanks, Brian!)

Deus Ex Arca: apocalyptic, absurdist science fiction about a box that does anything and everything

Here's "Deus Ex Arca," a beautifully told, absurdist science fiction story about a terrible, wonderful box, by Desirina Boskovich. Desirina was one of my Clarion students about five years ago, and was extremely promising then. When I saw her name on a new story today, I was sure it would be beautiful, and wonderful, and haunting, and I was not disappointed.

Miss Amelia gazed in shock at where her table had been. “Well, I never,” she said. She bent over to pick up the box . . .

. . . and turned into a giant celery stalk.

Where there had been Miss Amelia, there was now something else, and that something else was a column of celery, measuring approximately five feet and five inches, its limpid green fronds rustling gently in the breeze.

The box sat beside it.

Lightspeed Presents... "Deus Ex Arca" by Desirina Boskovich

Podcast to mark centennial of Marc Davis, co-creator of Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean

Jeff Baham from sez, "March 30 marked the centennial of the birth of Marc Davis, one of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men" who was responsible for both the creation of some of Disney's iconic characters (Tinker Bell, Maleficent) and iconic theme park attractions (Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion). The Mousetalgia podcast is noting the life and work of Davis with a special episode dedicated to his career, including a never-published interview with Davis himself and a recent conversation with his widow and fellow Disney Imagineer, Alice Davis. Of special note are Marc and Alice's recollections about Marc joining the Disney Studio in the '20s, where he worked on Snow White."

Mousetalgia Episode 230: Remembering Marc Davis with Alice Davis

MP3 link

(Thanks, Jeff!)

Autonomous sensory meridian response - self-diagnosed neurological condition/superpower that makes you really enjoy whispering

In Tribes, this week's This American Life podcast, a woman with "Autonomous sensory meridian response" describes her curious neurological condition. When she hears boring, whispering voices, she experiences pleasurable, relaxing "brain shivers" that are so nice, she finds herself watching the Home Shopping Network for hours (and hours!) at a time. There's a whole YouTube subculture of ASMR videos in which (mostly) women whisper quietly as they narrate their jewelry condition, or role-play giving you a shave.

There's not much science on ASMR (yet), but a Sheffield university prof doesn't discount the possibility that it is real.

ASMR subculture feels like something out of a very good recent William Gibson novel, and it's apparently real.

Curiosity rover dresses

Etsy seller Shenova (who also does some nice-looking, science-y leggings), makes these $135 Mars Curiosity rover dresses to order:

This super special space chic fashion forward dress has a real NASA image from the Mars Curiosity Rover, also with a rover "track" print on the other side. It it made from custom printed non-fading, durable Lycra stretch fabric with a cotton stretch black backing for a lovely slimming effect. There is also a cute silver strap detail at the top. Very comfortable fabric, easy fitting.

The Curiosity lettering is hand studded with crystals for extra fanciness. You'll surely impress your friends with this one! Hem is 32" but can be adjusted if you add a note.

NASA Mars Curiosity Print Rover Dress Space Chic (via IO9)

Queen goes on austerity footing, receive mere £5M pay-rise from the taxpayers

At only £36.1M from the public purse (up £5M from last year), the poor Queen is positively underpaid. After all, she was divinely chosen to be monarch. God will be angry.

Toronto Public Library's Fahrenheit 451-themed alternate reality game

Jim Munroe sez, "We've just launched KTR 451, a game I developed for the Toronto Public Library. Drawing on the themes and characters in Fahrenheit 451 (the TPL's One Book this year), it's a simple alternate reality game -- part scavenger hunt, part audio drama -- and people in Toronto can play it by calling (647) 931-1585. There's three missions, one per week, until a live event on April 22nd."

If Jim's name sounds familiar, that's because he's behind the Ghosts With Shit Jobs movie, as well as co-producing the controversial oil pipeline game.

Take Your Seashells Out of Your Ears!

Notorious porno copyright trolls Prenda Law have a very bad day in court

Today marked the long-awaited courtroom showdown of notorious copyright porno trolls Prenda Law (previous posts) and United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II, the judge who figured out that Prenda was running something that looked a blackmail racket that involved systematic fraud against courts around the country. After stalling and fum-fuhing, Prenda's lawyers and principals were dragged before Judge Wright, where they sat for a hearing that ran for 12 whole minutes before Wright furiously banished them from his courtroom. Ken "Popehat" White was there, and sent tantalizing tweets about the total trainwreck he'd witnessed, which he has now had a chance to write up in full.

In a nutshell, the Prendateers showed up and took the Fifth, refusing to speak. Their lawyer tried to enter some argument into the record, but the judge didn't allow it. Prenda had filed no briefs, and had been called to answer basic, factual questions about lawsuits. Wright wasn't happy about it. Ken has written up a list of likely consequences Prenda will now face. It's not pretty. At very least, the firm and its activities are at an end. At most (though not likely), this could end in prison for the principals here.

Judge Wright grew steadily and visibly more outraged. "I want to know if some of my conjecture is accurate — and the only way to know is to have the principals here and ask them questions. This is an opportunity for them to protect themselves," he said. But Steele's lawyer confirmed his client would exercise his right to remain silent. Attorneys for Paul Hansmeier, Paul Duffy, and Angela Van Den Hemel confirmed their clients, too, would invoke their rights to remain silent. Judge Wright did not — unless I missed it — confirm whether Peter Hansmeier or Mark Lutz would answer questions.

An Opportunity To Be Heard

Heather Rosing, appearing for Paul Duffy, Angela Van Den Hemel, and Prenda Law, rose and asked Judge Wright for an opportunity to present "about a half hour" of argument on the points in his Order to Show Cause. Look: when you are a lawyer, representing a client, you have to stand up. You have to hold your ground even in the face of a furious federal judge. When a judge is yelling at you, however unsettling it is, you have to hold fast and remember you are there to represent the interests of your client against the terrible power of the court. Heather Rosing stood up, and has my admiration, whatever I think of her clients.

Judge Wright was uninterested in hearing legal argument, as opposed to testimony or evidence. "My clients have a right to a reasonable opportunity to be heard," Ms. Rosing protested. "Excuse me?" thundered Judge Wright, probably thinking — not unreasonably — that Ms. Rosing's clients could have filed briefs in advance to address any legal arguments they had, and that Ms. Rosing's clients have been evading questions for months. Judge Wright began to count off the questions he wanted answered. "I'm looking for facts," he said. He wanted to know who directs Prenda Law's litigation efforts, who makes its decisions, whether there is another Alan Cooper, and what happens with the money Prenda Law makes from settlements. Ms. Rosing answered (wisely, and properly) that she could not personally testify to those things. Why, Judge Wright demanded, did Prenda Law conceal its attorneys' financial interest in the cases? "There's no evidence that they have an interest," Ms. Rosing protested. "Excuse me?" Judge Wright boomed even louder. Were there windows, they would have rattled. "Have you read Paul Hansmeier's deposition?" he demanded, referring to the bizarre deposition in which Paul Hansmeier failed to explain Prenda Law's shadowy owners or flow of funds. "I have," Ms. Rosing said, but stood her ground.

Prenda Law's Attorneys Take The Fifth Rather Than Answer Judge Wright's Questions

Judge Death costume

Finland's Head Hunter is selling a set of accessories that you can use to turn yourself (or a mannequin) into a terrifyingly credible Judge Death from 2000AD's Judge Dredd. It appears that the costume was made by DeviantArt member Warrior1944, who may or may not be "Peter Olsson, a huge Dredd fan from Sweden," though I'm not entirely sure of the relationship here. Looks like 2000AD is gearing up for some legal enforcement against Head Hunter, so if you're planning on getting this, you should probably hurry.

Head Hunter has promised four Dark Judges, and a short film to be produced in Finland, using all of them.

JUDGE DEATH 1:1 STATUE/SUIT (via Geeks Are Sexy)

Chef 5 Minute Meals: Self-cooking meal-in-a-box

I bought six of these two weeks ago just because the technology — a totally self-contained heating element that gives you a hot meal via steam heat in 10 minutes or less no matter where you are —- seemed so amazing.

Guess what?

I’m sitting here eating one of these meals right now, with no power since 14″ of snow descended on my podunk town overnight, and it is delicious.

Cheap at twice the price.

And the delight of preparing it: you simply open the included pouch of salt water, pour it on the heating element, place your sealed food container on top, put the whole shebang back into the insulated box, and wait and watch in wonder and delight as:

1. The box starts to puff up

2. Steam starts pouring out

3. Sounds — amazing sounds — emanate from the box

4. The smell of cooking food pervades the immediate vicinity

5. You open the box and peel back the plastic lid and darned if your chicken cacciatore isn’t all piping hot and smelling scrumdiddlyumptious — tastes great too!

Fantastic stuff. -- Joe Stirt

Chef 5-Minute Meals: 6 meals for $32

Charles Bradley - “Strictly Reserved for You” (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 45: Charles Bradley - “Strictly Reserved for You” (MP3)

Soul singer Charles Bradley has a lot of feelings, and it's not hard to see why: he's lived on the street, discovered his brother’s murdered body, and spent most of his 64 years as a James Brown impersonator, all while dreaming of recording his own music. His songs teem with the incredible anguish of his life, and his gratitude for its turnaround. Bradley has only seen success in the last few years, and his deep love for his life and fans is apparent. I’ve never seen someone give so much of himself on stage; he will actually burst into tears while wailing “I love you” and thanking the audience when he performs. It's irresistible.

Victim of Love is Charles Bradley’s excellent new album (out today!), and it sounds like a classic soul record with some sneaky psychedelic overtones. Charles has agreed to share this free download of the first single “Strictly Reserved for You” with us. Take a listen, know that Charles loves you, and head over to a record retailer to show your love right back.

"Batteries, Sold Separately" by Randy Regier

Here's the latest piece of art by the great Randy Regier.

"Batteries, Sold Separately"
H 4.5" x W 3.5" x D 1.5"
Inkjet print on paper, clear plastic.
Multiple of 10.

More work by Randy Regier

Free US court records service RECAP gets two major features, in Aaron Swartz's memory

One of Aaron Swartz's more epic hacks was the liberation of $1.5M worth of caselaw from PACER, the US government's proprietary court-records database, pushing them into RECAP, the free/open alternative that gives everyone access to American law.

The Think Computer Foundation produced a set of grants in Aaron's memory to accomplish a pair of long-sought features to RECAP, and they've announced that these features have been added:

Ka-Ping Yee, a Canadian software developer living in Northern California, has created a version of RECAP for Google’s Chrome browser. This gives RECAP a much larger base of potential users. Previously, RECAP had only been available for the Mozilla Firefox browser. The RECAP Chrome extension can be downloaded at

Filippo Valsorda and Alessio Palmero Aprosio, both from Italy, have improved RECAP to support the version of PACER used by the U.S. appellate courts. This new functionality helps to dramatically expand the scope of citizens’ free access to United States case law. This improved Firefox version of the extension is also available at, and appellate functionality will be available soon for Chrome as well.

These awards recognize work that furthers Swartz’s ideals of information freedom and openness. The remaining grant involves visualizing data available on Think Computer Foundation’s PlainSite web site (the deadline for which has been extended to May 31, 2013 as work on PlainSite continues).

Two RECAP Grants Awarded in Memory of Aaron Swartz (via Freedom to Tinker)

Obama and DARPA want to map the human brain like we've mapped the human genome

Here are a couple different perspectives on the big news out of Washington this afternoon — an ambitious Obama Administration proposal to appropriate $100 million to begin a project to "map the brain". What's that mean? We have a lot of good data on single neurons. We have a lot of good data on what happens in the brain, as a whole, during certain tasks. What we don't really understand is how those individual neurons work together as networks or what activity in the brain really means on the level of causality and processing. That's what this project would be aimed at understanding. At LiveScience, Stephanie Pappas puts the project into scientific (and financial) context. At Nature News, Meredith Wadman writes about why some scientists are wary of this plan.

Thursday: Pesco hosting art/tech panel at San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum


On Thursday evening (4/4) at San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum, I'm moderating a panel titled "A State of Technology" at about art, technology, culture, and the Bay Area. Much more interesting than me though are the fascinating folks on the panel who are likely familiar to you if you are a regular Boing Boing reader! UC Berkeley professor Ken Goldberg is an artist/engineer whose art has appeared at the Whitney Biennial, Pompidou Center in Paris, Buenos Aires Biennial, and the ICC in Tokyo. Ariel Waldman is the founder of, a directory of ways to participate in space exploration, and the global instigator of Science Hack Day. Amy X Neuburg is composer and performer of “avant-cabaret" for voice, electronics, and chamber ensembles! Amy is going to play a short set at the start of the evening's program! Admission to our event is free with entrance to the Contemporary Jewish Museum, a very compelling space in itself. The event is 6:30pm-8pm. I hope to see you there! "A State of Technology"

Citizen science project: Tracking cicadas on the East Coast

You can build your own cicada detector and help Radiolab track the movements of a once-every-17-year cicada swarm expected to invade the US East Coast this summer.

Oceans could yield new sources of rare earth elements

Rare earth elements aren't actually rare, but right now the vast majority of them (97%) come from a single place — China. Given how important these elements are to the making of everything from computers to cars, that gives China quite the monopoly. With that context, here's the news: Japan just found a big supply of rare earth elements in mud at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Of course, what may be good news for manufacturing is not necessarily good news for the health of oceans.

Evolution can happen faster than you think

I'm contributing to Voice, a new group column on environmental science at Ensia. My first piece is about those swallows in Nebraska that seem to have adapted to highway traffic and what they can teach us about the speed of evolution and the way invasive species adapt to new homelands.

Marijuanamerica: One mans' quest to understand America's dysfunctional love affair with weed

Alfred Ryan Nerz is a journalist and public broadcasting producer. He smokes weed, sometimes several times a day, for weeks at a stretch.

Read the rest

Investigating the Gulf Coast dolphin murders

Along the Gulf Coast, people are killing (and sometime gruesomely mutilating) dolphins in record numbers. At National Geographic, Rena Silverman goes in-depth on the killings, which investigators now believe are the work of multiple people who are not connected to one another. Xeni wrote about it last year, when that was apparently less clear. Is it less or more disturbing that this isn't likely to be an isolated dolphin serial killer?

World's largest tunnel boring machine lands in Seattle

Known affectionately as Bertha, this tunnel boring machine has the widest diameter of any boring machine ever built; 57.5 feet. It's being used to dig a highway tunnel under downtown Seattle and it just arrived there today after being shipped from Japan.

I feel this warrants your attention for two reasons:
1) If you live near Seattle, you can actually go get a look at this massive beast before it starts chewing its way through the city. If you like looking at giant machines (or know someone who does) now's your chance. She's coming into the Port of Seattle, Terminal 46, as you read this and there will be ample opportunities to get a look as the pieces are assembled and moved into the nearby launch pit. The Washington State Department of Transportation has suggestions on places to go to get a good view.
2) If, for some reason, you were looking for a new way to lose massive amounts of time on YouTube, Bertha (and boring machines, in general) can help with that. Here's a cutaway animation explaining how boring machines work. Here's a video of Big Becky, another boring machine, breaking through to the other side of a tunnel at Niagara Falls, Canada. (In fact, boring machine breakthrough videos are, in and of themselves, a mesmerizing genre.) And in this video, you can watch the massively long line of support equipment go by in the wake of a boring machine.

Douglas Rushkoff: Present Shock, the Boing Boing interview

A real-time, always-on existence without past or a future, origins or goals.Read the rest

Cross My Heart Hope to Die: eclectic, cinematic multimedia beats

A self-titled EP from Cross My Heart Hope To Die is out today on Alpha Pup Records. I've been grooving on these tracks for a few weeks now, and the moody, cinematic, urban vibe grows on me more each time I listen.

The music project is also an interactive art collective, which has been putting up sonic street installations over the past year or so in various cities around the world. Below, "Wildside," from the four-song EP (Amazon, iTunes).

Unsuspecting pedestrians around the world have been enjoying and participating in this project - sometimes without even knowing it. Inconspicuous art installations and street music boxes have been hidden in such cities as Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, Rome, Belfast, Prague, and Vienna. CMHHTD wants to manipulate the way people find music; to bring back the thrill of discovery.

Read the rest

HOWTO produce a 3D printed skeleton from a CT scan of a living animal

Evan Doney, a grad student in Matthew Leevy's biological imaging facility at the University of Notre Dame, has published a method for creating a 3D printed, life-size, accurate skeleton of a living animal by converting a CT scan of the animal to a printable file. They produced a detailed HOWTO as well, which, unfortunately, is paywalled.

The idea to print skeletons from CT scans came from Evan Doney, an engineering student working in the lab of Matthew Leevy, who runs the biological imaging facility at the University of Notre Dame. ”At first I didn’t really know what the killer app would be, I just knew it would be really cool,” Leevy said. But he began to see new possibilities after striking up a conversation with an ear, nose, and throat specialist during an office visit for a sinus problem. “I actually got out my computer and showed him some slides, and by the end of it we were collaborating.”

Doney used several freeware programs to convert data from CT scans into a format that could be read by a 3-D printer. As a proof of principle, he and colleagues printed a rat skeleton in white plastic and printed a removable set of lungs in green or purple. They also printed out a rabbit skull.

I have a 3D print of my femur in bronze and stainless steel, courtesy of my wife and her raid on my MRIs. Sounds like you get an even better shapefile from a CT scan, if you don't mind receiving the radiation equivalent of 800 X-rays.

How to 3-D Print the Skeleton of a Living Animal [Wired/Greg Miller]

Thailand: 13% of endangered tortoise species discovered in smuggler's bag at airport

Indian Star Tortoises. Photo: P.Tansom/TRAFFIC

Authorities in Thailand made two big seizures of attempted tortoise smuggling at an airport this week. Hundreds of threatened tortoises were discovered, and they are among the rarest in the world. Two smugglers were apprehended.

From TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network:

Read the rest

How "workarounds" cause people with dyslexia to be more creative

"Mounting evidence shows that many people with dyslexia are highly creative, out-of-the-box thinkers, and neuroimaging studies demonstrate that their brains really do think differently." An interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal on adaptive responses to a "neurodifference" that affects as many as one in five Americans.

Caldera: dream-like animated short about mental illness

Evan Viera's lovely short "Caldera" explores the ambiguous reality inhabited by people experiencing psychosis, through the tale of a young girl suffering from mental illness.

Viera, who also composed the film's lovely ambient electronic score, explains:

Read the rest

Dutch reality TV show offers one-way trip to Mars

A television company in Holland is seeking volunteers for a one-way trip to Mars. The good news is that the sort of people who would volunteer to be on a reality TV show will be on a one-way trip to Mars.

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Gweek 087: The Art of Doing

I had an enlightening conversation with Josh Gosfield and Camille Sweeney, authors of a great new book called The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well. Josh and Camille interviewed 36 notable people -- artists, entrepreneurs, actors, athletes -- asking them their secrets of success. Joining me on the episode was Gweek's frequent co-host, Joshua Glenn, co-editor of Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun and HiLowBrow.


In this episode:

The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well

Ye-Ye Profile: Gigi Gaston

Fathom Butterfly - the notorious beauty queen, showgirl, Hammer horror actress, porn star, felon and feminist filmmaker tweets her memoirs

Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun, by Elizabeth Foy Larsen and Joshua Glenn.

Katana, by Ann Nocenti and Alex Sanchez

Science-Fiction: The Early Years, by Everett Franklin Bleiler

In Praise of Messy Lives, by Katie Roiphe

Geek Battle: The Game of Extreme Geekdom

Flow Free

Brain Rot: Hip Hop Family Tree, Afrika Bambaataa Planet Rock

Read the rest of the Hip Hop Family Tree comics!

Read the rest