Mark Frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the founding editor-in-chief of MAKE. He is editor-in-chief of Cool Tools and co-founder of Wink Books. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects

McMansion built on wrong lot

Mark and Brenda Voss learned that the 5,300-square-foot vacation house they built at a cost of $680,000 "actually sits on the lot next to the one they own in the gated Ocean Hammock resort community" of Daytona Beach. The result? Lots of lawyers and finger-pointing.

A hyper-dimensional gelatinous blob begins to sing

Screen Test. Featuring Marganta. Voice: Marga Sardà. Design, direction and animation by Dvein. [via]

WATCH: The secret life of Velella jellyfish

Steve Haddock of the the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (and author of the fantastic book, Practical Computing for Biologists) sent me a link to MBARI's latest video, about the wonderfully weird Velella jellyfish, aka the by-the-wind sailor.

In the spring, beaches can be covered by thousands or even millions of blue jellyfish relatives called Velella velella, the by-the-wind sailors. Velella typically live on the surface of the open ocean far from shore, propelled by winds pushing on their tiny sails.

Velella is best described as a hydroid colony which has flipped itself over. It is unlike a traditional jellyfish (medusa), but rather like the benthic stage of a hydroid. Instead of living attached to rocks on the bottom, its "substrate" is the ocean's surface. These hydroid colonies bud off tiny medusae, little "jellyfish", just like many benthic hydroids do.

A particularly striking feature of Velella is their blue pigmentation. In fact, most animals that live on the surface of the water (snails, jellies, fish) have blue pigmentation. It may serve different purposes for different organisms, but is likely a combination of camouflage and protection from the sun's rays.

For more information on Velella and to report your own sightings go to

WATCH: Sara X dances to a public domain recording of Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik”

Sara X says: "This recording of 'Eine Kleine' is from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra's 1936 performance. Yay public domain!"

WATCH: New episode of 10 Amazing Bets You Will Always Win

I love Richard Wiseman's "10 Amazing Bets You Will Always Win" videos. Here's #12 in the series!

WATCH: An Optical Poem (1938)

The short film "An Optical Poem," 1938, by the celebrated German-born abstract film-maker Oskar Fischinger, in its entirety, composed to Franz Liszt's "2nd Hungarian Rhapsody." Made entirely with paper in stop motion fashion.

(Thanks, Robyn!)

WATCH: Aggressive turtle plays ball with a dog

Turtle employs unfair sportsmanship against dog to gain possession of ball.

UFO sighting over Florida

CGI or physical special effect? I'm hoping for the latter!

Interview with my wonderfully eccentric friend, Rick Rosner

In-Sight has published part one of a massive four-part interview with Rick Rosner, my high school friend who went to high school for a decade, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, was the subject of an Errol Morris documentary, and became a writer for Jimmy Kimmel.

In the 1970s, there was no such thing as nerd chic. If you were nerdy, you were probably lonely. But, like many misguided nerds, I thought my intelligence and niceness would inspire a girl to look past my nerdiness. I spent the second semester of ninth grade building a Three-Dimensional Gaussian Distribution Generator to demonstrate to my honors math class. The machine dropped a thousand BBs through a pyramidal tower of overlapping half-inch grids into a 24-by-12 array of columns. It was a supercharged Plinko machine with an added spatial dimension, forming a half-bell of BBs, thanks to the laws of probability. During its construction, I thought, “A girl will see this elegant experimental apparatus, think I’m brilliant, and become my girlfriend.” I completed the BB Machine in time to demonstrate it to the class on the last day of school. No one cared. Of course they didn’t – it was the last day of junior high, and a dweeb was pouring BBs into a plastic pyramid.

See also:

My genius friend Rick Rosner went to high school for 10 years

I went to high school with the smartest (or 2nd smartest) man on earth

An insider’s guide to boosting your kid’s IQ

Jetsetting Terrorist: Blog from a guy who is branded "SSSS" by the TSA

Jetsetting Terrorist is a fascinating blog written by a guy who was once convicted of an activist property crime and as a result must undergo enhanced screening every time he flies.

I’m not an actual “terrorist,” but years ago the the government convicted me of a property crime it deemed “terrorism,” and since then, life has been interesting.

Especially flying. Since 2009, I’ve been on the TSA’s “terrorist watch list.” Not quite the “no fly list”, but close.

This means that when I fly, the TSA goes crazy. At various times, I’ve been refused entry to planes, tailed through airports, and told my Starbucks coffee might be a bomb. What the TSA does when someone like me flies

Here’s the abridged protocol:

  • I obtain a boarding pass. It is emblazened with four large S’s. Like this: “SSSS.”
  • At security, the TSA sees the S’s. Their eyes get big. They turn between 90 and 180 degrees, lean into their radio, and whisper for backup.
  • A senior officer approach, announces I have been “selected” for special screening. I am told to follow them.
  • I am escorted to the front of the line (this is the good part). My carry-on items are placed in a bright red bin.
  • I am shadowed through the body scanner.
  • I receive what I will euphemistically call a “thorough pat-down.”
  • My luggage is ripped apart, swabbed for explosive residue, my computer turned on, and everything generally put under a microscope.
  • TSA takes my ID into a back room and calls the FBI to report my travels.
  • Meanwhile, TSA mobilizes a “random security audit” at the gate, re-checking IDs and searching luggage of everyone on my flight.


  • I am not allowed to sit in an exit row.
  • I am not allowed to check in from home.

If this doesn’t exactly sound like high drama, just wait. The TSA is so disorganized and arbitrary, the results are a pure comedy of errors. Each time I fly the TSA manages to get something wrong, display some level of colossal incompetence, and generally make themselves worthy of being made fun of on the internet.

Stress reducing mushrooms

stress-mushroomsFirebox sells four varieties of rubber mushrooms designed to reduce symptoms of stress. They are described as being "slightly phallic" in appearance.

The Struggle in Black and White: Activist Photographers Who Fought for Civil Rights

Bob Fitch snapped this picture of a sheriff’s deputy pursuing photographer Matt Herron during a protest in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1966. Courtesy the Bob Fitch Photography Archive.

Ben Marks of Collectors Weekly says: "My colleague Hunter Oatman-Stanford has just published an article about the photographers who documented the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and '60s. These photographers, Hunter learned, were deeply committed to the cause of Civil Rights, but their job was not be be heroes—they were expected to get their photos back to the offices of CORE, SNCC, and the NAACP, so they could be distributed to publications around the country in order to get the message out about what was going on down South."

Although organizations like SNCC supplied photos to both black and white publications, almost all their photographers were white men, which seems surprising for a group promoting integration at all levels of society. “With very few exceptions, we were white,” says Matt Herron, another prominent civil-rights photographer. “It was obviously very dangerous for a black photographer to shoot a demonstration or some public event. Also, to be a freelance photographer in those days, particularly a photojournalist, it required equipment, money, and spare time to teach yourself the craft. Those resources were not generally available to black kids.”

Herron had previously worked for Kodak in Rochester, New York, where he’d become one of Minor White’s students, learning the ins and outs of developing, printing, and photographic aesthetics. Through White, Herron would eventually meet his mentor, Dorothea Lange, who encouraged his interest in social documentary photography. By the early 1960s, Herron was freelancing as a photographer, pitching stories to magazines like “LIFE” and “Look.” “Dorothea convinced me that photography could be not just a profession but a way of life, and that I could marry my social concerns to my desire to be a photographer,” Herron says.

Following in the footsteps of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographers of the 1930s, Herron formed the Southern Documentary Project, a group of five photographers dedicated to recording everyday life under segregation. “In the summer of ’64, the five of us traveled throughout the South but mostly in Mississippi, shooting the major events of the Freedom Summer, but also, more broadly, trying to document what black life was like in the South,” says Herron. His most recent book, Mississippi Eyes, tells the story of that tumultuous summer.

Key figures in CIA-crack cocaine scandal begin to come forward

In 1996 journalist Gary Webb wrote a series of investigative stories about the connections between the South LA crack epidemic, and the CIA's Nicaraguan Contra fighters. The articles ran in the San Jose Mercury News.

The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times waged a curiously intense campaign to discredit Webb, who was effectively blackballed from journalism. Webb died in 2004 from an apparent suicide.

It turns out that Webb was on to something. From Huffington Post:

"If he was stupid and had a lobotomy," he might not have known it was drug money, Baca said. "He knew exactly what it was. He didn't care. He was there to fund the Contras, period."
Above, the trailer for a new documentary, Freeway: Crack in the System

Video shows cop robbing and pepper-spraying man

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 10.09.15 AM

In this video it looks like a NYC cop is stealing money from a man and then pepper spraying him. At least the cop didn't kill the man on the spot. That's progress! NY Times: Video of Officer Accused of Theft Prompts Inquiry

Intimidating anteater frightens baby kangaroo

The alpha-anteater pose was overkill as the baby roo was already running away and didn't see it.

If you like posts about delightful creatures like this, take a look at Boing Boing's Delightful Creatures tag!