David Bowie's hair sold for $18,750

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A lock of David Bowie's hair sold for $18,750 at auction this week. The seller was Wendy Farrier, a wigmaker who snipped the lock for color reference for a wax statue at Madame Tussauds. No info on the buyer.

"Once hair samples were matched with any figures at Madam Tussauds they were discarded as a matter of course, so there was amusement when I asked to keep one from the selection taken from Bowie,” Farrier wrote in a signed letter of provenance given to Heritage Auctions.

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This man is building the business of DIY assault rifles

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Remember Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed who caused chaos last year with his design for a 3D printed gun, The Liberator? Now, Wilson and engineer John Sullivan have developed a $1500 desktop CNC mill, called the Ghost Gunner, that cranks out the key component in assault rifles. Now you can make your own AR-15! There's a waiting list to buy one and the money is going to Wilson's lawsuit against the State Department. From Rob Walker's excellent feature in Bloomberg Businessweek:

Most people can purchase a pretty good factory-built gun for $1,000. Even so, Wilson got 10 orders on Day One and started raising the price, soon cutting off pre-orders at 500. Sullivan submitted redesigned specs to suppliers by mid-December, with Wilson, Sullivan, and Denio building the earliest units themselves. They started shipping in April 2015.

Gradually, Wilson put together an assembly team—contacts from his network, random supporters who reached out via Twitter, and so on. “It’s torture man, getting going,” he says. “But here we are. It’s been a full year of Ghost Gunner shipping.” The enterprise just surpassed 2,000 units shipped. (An upgraded Ghost Gunner 2 debuted on June 21 at $1,500; you can get on a waiting list for $250.)

Sullivan has since transitioned to a “consulting role.” He spoke to me, somewhere en route to Oklahoma City, from his van, which is where he and his fiancée essentially live, having sold most of their possessions. He’s opted for a low-expense, permanent-vacation lifestyle, he says, and can now pick and choose the projects that interest him.

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Video: the literal shrinking dollar

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Dip your dollar into liquid anhydrous ammonia, dry it, and repeat. The surface tension of the boiling and evaporating ammonia shrinks the bill. Caveat: It could prove difficult to use a mini-dollar and mutilating a bill may even be illegal.

(Applied Science via Weird Universe)

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In Japan, you can rent your friends

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For around US$115 for two hours, you can rent a friend via Tokyo company Client Partners. (No, this isn't code for prostitution.) From Chris Colin's article in The Week:

As we nibble at pork with ginger, (rent-a-friend) Yumi cheerfully tells me about the gigs she has had since joining Client Partners. (The six-year-old agency is the largest of its kind in Japan, with eight branches across Tokyo and another that recently opened in Osaka.) There was the mystery writer who wanted her to read the novel he'd toiled away at for 10 years. Another man needed someone to talk with about his aging parents — not in person, but via months of emails. Like Miyabi, Yumi works weddings. For one, she was hired to play the sister of the bride — a real, living woman who was in a family feud that precluded her actual attendance. The mother of the bride was also a rental. The two impostors got along swimmingly.

Yumi explains that these are just the more theatrical gigs. The bulk of her clients? They just want basic, uncomplicated companionship. From Yumi's vantage point, the breadth and depth of that need says something profound about her country.

There's a word in Japanese, gaman, that translates roughly as "stoic forbearance in the face of the unbearable." It's a deep-seated Japanese value, this idea that you suck it up no matter what. A lot has been happening lately. Anxiety and depression spiked after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The country itself is shrinking, its population plummeting and aging rapidly.

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The most, er, inspiring interview with a football star you will ever watch

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"Run through a motherfucker's face, then you don't have to worry about them anymore," Marshawn Lynch, recently-retired Seattle Seahawks player, told 60 Minutes Sports. Read the rest

Watch this very funny kid stare down ESPN camera during baseball game

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The winner of Saturday's College World Series game between the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and the Texas Christian University Frogs was decidedly this kid.

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Watch a brief history of video game controllers

"A Brief History of Video Game Controllers," starting with Tennis for Two (1958). My favorite is the pioneering Nintendo Power Glove (1989). (Super Deluxe)

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Delicious Madagascar hissing cockroach cake

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Artist and baker Katherine Dey made this creepy-as-hell but probably delicious cake that looks like a Madagascar hissing cockroach. Its innards oozes with Boston cream filling. Dey made a video how-to, below. Just make sure you clean up the crumbs or else the real roaches will come and then who knows what could happen if they realize what you just ate.

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Mysterious "Men In Black" spotted in Iowa

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In recent weeks, several people have reported strange "men in black" standing on the side of roads in Muscatine County, Iowa. Some have witnessed the unusual trenchcoat-clad figures stepping into the roadway just as vehicles pass. In UFOlogy and conspiracy circles, Men In Black are thought to be threatening government agents or perhaps extraterrestrials.

“My son has experienced this and it’s no joke,” said Beatrice Wilson Strong. “It was really a frightening experience to him.”

The Muscatine County Sheriff's Office requests anyone who encounters these creepy characters to call 911.

“We do take this seriously," says the Sheriff's Office on their Facebook page.

(KWQC via The Anomalist) Read the rest

When was "going to the beach" invented?

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Until the 18th century, the seashore was not a place most people would go to relax. In ancient times, it was where you might run into a variety of monsters like Scylla and Charybdis. The shore is also where one might encounter pirates, smallpox, or even a wayward Kraken. Then something changed. Sorbonne University historian Alain Corbin explores this unusual history in the book The Lure of the Sea: The Discovery of the Seaside in the Western World, 1750-1840, one of the sources for a fascinating Smithsonian magazine article about "Inventing the Beach":

Around the mid-18th century, according to Corbin, European elites began touting the curative qualities of fresh air, exercise and sea bathing. Especially in Britain, home of the Industrial Revolution, aristocrats and intellectuals became preoccupied with their own health and hygiene. They viewed workers, whose numbers were multiplying in factories and new industrial towns, as strengthened through labor. By comparison, the upper classes seemed fragile and effete: lacking in physical prowess and destined for decline. The notion of the “restorative sea” was born. Physicians prescribed a plunge into chilly waters to invigorate and enliven. The first seaside resort opened on England’s eastern shore in the tiny town of Scarborough near York. Other coastal communities followed, catering to a growing clientele of sea bathers seeking treatment for a number of conditions: melancholy, rickets, leprosy, gout, impotence, tubercular infections, menstrual problems and “hysteria.” In an earlier version of today’s wellness culture, the practice of sea bathing went mainstream...

Tracing this remarkable turnaround, “the irresistible awakening of a collective desire for the shore,” Corbin concludes that by 1840, the beach meant something new to Europeans.

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Enjoy the stick figure horror of Metro Los Angeles's grisly new transit safety videos!

Metro Los Angeles created a series of fun and terrifyingly gruesome transit safety animations about how not to get killed!

“Safety is our highest priority for Metro riders," said Metro Board Chair and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. "These videos are edgy by design because we want these messages to stick,” “A lapse of attention at a rail crossing or unsafe behavior at a station can have dire if not deadly consequences. Let’s all do our part to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip."

Above, "Present or Pulverized?" Below, "Careful or Crushed?," "Dismount or Dismembered?," "Mindful or Mangled"," and the always fun "Heads-up or Headless?"

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Fantastic "I Love L.A." pillow for design geeks

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My pal Lawrence Azerrad, the hypertalented designer for bands like Wilco, Best Coast, and Beach Boys, created this wonderful "I LOVE L.A." pillow. When I rest my weary head on its soft cotton, it makes me miss Los Angeles. And when I doze off, I dream of living in the iconic John Lautner Chemosphere house. The pillow is $50 and also available as a mug and tote!

LAD Design: I LOVE L.A. store

Previously on Boing Boing:

• "Flight of the Concordes" by Lawrence Azerrad Read the rest

You could own Banksy's SWAT Van

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Banksy's iconic SWAT Van artwork goes up for auction at Bonhams next week. The piece first appeared in Banksy's infamous 2006 Los Angeles show Barely Legal. The hammer price is expected to hit US$300,000 - $450,000. From Bonhams:

Banksy's classic response to fear and tyranny is laughter and in the case of the present work the artist toys with his anti-establishment persona, ridiculing the police not just by depicting a scene in which heavily armed, faceless Special Forces agents are hoodwinked by a small boy but by doing so on the very apparatus of their strength. Banksy's best works combine vicious black humour with a clarity of message that many of the best advertisers would kill for and a rage that simply will not be ignored. His playfulness is the velvet glove that hides the iron fist of a social conscience honed on the streets of Bristol and which found its apotheosis in his breakout show Barely Legal in Los Angeles in 2006...

The present work was acquired directly from this exhibition and has remained in the same magnificent collection ever since, coming to the open market now for the first time. Despite the nature of the sculpture the condition is excellent and testament to the care with which the artist approaches even his most challenging works. This is a work that by the artist's own admission was first shown in a 'vandalised warehouse extravaganza' and yet it is worthy of any museum collection in the world.

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Jury rules that Led Zeppelin did not steal "Stairway to Heaven"

A federal jury in Los Angeles has just ruled that Led Zeppelin did not swipe the opening to "Stairway to Heaven" from the Spirit song "Taurus." From the New York Times:

Mr. Plant and Mr. Page both testified that “Stairway to Heaven” had been composed independently, and that while both bands had played on the same bill a handful of times, they did not recall ever seeing Spirit perform and had no familiarity with “Taurus” until the lawsuit was brought.

“I didn’t remember it then, and I don’t remember it now,” Mr. Plant said.

The jury found that, although Mr. Page and Mr. Plant had access to “Taurus” before the release of “Stairway to Heaven,” the two songs’ original elements did not contain enough similarities. Before reaching the verdict on Thursday, the jury asked to listen to audio recordings of the introductions to both songs twice.

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Lavish new New Order singles vinyl box on its way

On September 9, New Order will reissue their career-spanning Singles compilation as a remastered four-LP 180 gram vinyl box set or double CD set priced at $70 for the former and $20 for the latter. Tell me now how should I feel. From Rhino:

A decade after its initial release, SINGLES has been refined to become a greatly improved representation of the band's history. The renowned Frank Arkwright (The Smiths' Complete) at Abbey Road has remastered the collection with all audio sourced from high quality transfers.

In addition, SINGLES adds "I'll Stay With You" from 2013's Lost Sirens album and replaces the correct single edits or mixes for the tracks "Nineteen63," "Run 2," "Bizarre Love Triangle," "True Faith," "Spooky," "Confusion" and "The Perfect Kiss." The result is a considerable upgrade on the previous version of the album.

Video above, "True Faith" (1987). Below, "Ceremony" (1981), the song that bridged the end of Joy Division after Ian Curtis's death and the birth of New Order.

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Watch a fantastic documentary about psych pioneer Roky Erickson

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Roky Erickson is the founder of pioneering Texan psychedelic band the 13th Floor Elevators, an outfit that emerged in mid-1960s from Austin's underground scene and influenced bands ranging from ZZ Top and Primal Scream to The Flaming Lips and Queens of the Stone Age.

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Beautiful animation about human origins

Design studio Kurzgesagt's latest fantastic "In a Nutshell" animation explores the origin of humanity and "What Happened Before History."

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