Sex Criminals: Robin Hood bank robbers who can stop time when they orgasm

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Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky's creator-owned comic Sex Criminals is a filthy, hilarious heist story about a couple who discover that they can stop time while orgasming, and keep it frozen until they become horny again -- so they use their power to rob banks in order to rescue a library from foreclosure (naturally). The first two series of the comic are collected in Big Hard Sex Criminals, a fabulous hardcover whose plain pink wrapper comes off to make it look like you're reading a book on DIY pet euthanasia.

Lumberjanes: ground-breaking, wonderful, hilarious comic about adventurous girls

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I'm late to the party on Lumberjanes: I bought the first collection when it came out last summer, then promptly lost it in my overseas move; last weekend, I read it and the next two books and fell head over heels in love with this series of graphic novels for kids and adults.

Infested: an itchy, fascinating natural history of the bed bug

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The resurgence of the bed bug caught modern civilization flatfooted: an ancient pestilence dating back to the Pharoahs, gone for two generations, has returned with a vengeance, infesting fancy hotels and slums alike, lining our streets with mattresses spraypainted with the warning BEDBUGS. Infested, science writer Brooke Borel's natural history of the bed bug, looks at the bug's insurgency as a scientific, cultural, and economic phenomenon, and will leave you itching with delight.

Reading With Pictures: awesome, classroom-ready comics for math, social studies, science and language arts

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Since its inception as a 2012 Kickstarter, the Reading With Pictures project has gone from strength to strength, culminating in a gorgeous, attractively produced hardcover graphic anthology of delightful comic stories that slot right into standard curriculum in science, math, social studies and language arts. Read the rest

A Fairy Friend: storybook illustrated by a Disney animation legend

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Claire Keene is a legendary Disney animation artist whose work has appeared in Frozen and Tangled; she provides such lively illustrations for children's author Sue Fliess's poem A Fairy Friend that readers are transported to an enchanted world where play and imagination can take you out of this world.

Too Like the Lightning: intricate worldbuilding, brilliant speculation, gripping storytelling

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Ada Palmer -- historian, musician, librettist -- debuts as a novelist today with a book called Too Like the Lightning, a book more intricate, more plausible, more significant than any debut I can recall.

I fixed my coffee maker in a bad way, then in an awesome way

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My orange Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Percolator is my version of the red stapler. (I have a real red stapler, too.)

Over the years, I've tried to keep my Moka in pristine condition, but my family members don't care about it as much as I do. They would leave it on the burner after the water boiled up from the lower chamber to the upper chamber, which caused the bottom part to overheat and turn black.

The final straw dropped on Saturday when one of my family members forgot to put water in it *and* forgot about it on the burner. I was in another room and when I smelled burning plastic, I knew what had happened. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed the handle with a dish rag. It stretched like taffy. Even the plastic knob on the lid was melted. Disgusted, I threw the coffee maker in the trash.

An hour later I pulled it out of the trash. I decided I could make a new handle. That was a good idea, but I idiotically thought I could get away with making a handle on a 3D printer. I designed the handle on Tinkercad (a fantastic web-based 3D modeling application):

I also designed a knob for the lid. It took about an hour to print out both pieces. While it was printing, I used a Dremel tool to remove the carbonized black stuff from alternating facets of the octagonal boiler chamber. I was pleased with my new orange/green/black/silver Moka and posted a photo of it to my Instagram feed:

The espresso maker that wouldn't die.

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Free Comic Book Day: Why write science comics?

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In honor of Free Comic Book Day, we present this essay by Maris Wicks, author of Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean, and the co-author, with Jon Chad, of "Science Comics," a free comic available in comics stores all over the world today. See the bottom of the post for an exclusive preview of Science Comics!

Live in a Tree Stump!

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Money is tight for the great majority of people right now. If renting an apartment is not for you, and you want a small house for less than $40k, then chances are it’s going to be a so-called “tiny house.” These are typically 50 to 400 square feet and most often use a compost or chemical toilet (or, god forbid the smell, an incinerator toilet).

Here (right) is a photo of a typical tiny house from Wikipedia.

People think this is a new thing. While the reason people may be building and living in houses the size of a single room in a home may vary (“I want to downsize,” “I can make do with less,” “Who can afford a regular size house?” “My wife and kids drive me nuts!”), the fact is that people have been living in eensy-weensy domiciles for hundreds of years.

I suppose we could start with the cave, and the caveman and woman, but that’s silly. They didn’t even know about toilet paper.

In the 1800s, as the migration toward the western part of the U.S. began in earnest:

As the first waves of loggers swept over great portions of the Pacific Northwest's old-growth forests in the second half of the nineteenth century, those men opened up the dark dense woodlands to settlement. …. Left behind was a scarred landscape, scrap wood, and stumps. Many stumps. Huge stumps. Stumps that still stood a full 10 feet high but were undesirable as lumber because they tended to swell down toward their base, making the wood-grain uneven. 

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The Planet Remade: frank, clear-eyed book on geoengineering, climate disaster, & humanity's future

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Since its publication in late 2015, science writer Oliver Morton's The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World has swept many "best book" (best science book, best business book, best nonfiction book) and with good reason: though it weighs in at a hefty 440 pages and covers a broad scientific, political and technological territory, few science books are more important, timely and beautifully written.

A Burglar's Guide to the City: burglary as architectural criticism

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For years, Geoff Manaugh has entertained and fascinated us with his BLDGBLOG, and now he's even better at full-length, with A Burglar's Guide to the City (previously), a multidisciplinary, eclectic, voraciously readable book that views architecture, built environments, and cities themselves through the lens of breaking-and-entering.

The quest for the well-labeled inn

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I have a first-world problem: I stay in a lot of hotels.

Oh This Crazy VR Hype

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A few weeks back, I was at the annual Game Developers Conference. GDC kicked off this year with its first-ever VRDC, two days of all-VR, all the time. On top of that, there was VR programming sprinkled across the main event schedule, too: it’s launch year for the much-touted Big Headsets.

Something New: frank, comedic, romantic memoir of a wedding in comic form

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Lucy Knisley is a favorite around these parts, a comics creator whose funny, insightful, acerbic and disarmingly frank memoirs in graphic novel form have won her accolades and admiration from across the field. With her latest book, Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride, Knisley invites us into her wedding, her love life, her relationship with her mother, and an adventure that's one part Martha Stewart, one part French farce comedy.

The story of Traceroute, about a Leitnerd's quest

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Johannes Grenzfurthner talks about Traceroute: On the Road with a Leitnerd(*)
(*) Leitnerd is a wordplay referring to the German term Leitkultur.

It's the criminal economy, stupid!

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The Panama Papers — a massive cache of 11.5 million records leaked from the law firm Mossack Fonseca — reveal that several heads of state have been sheltering their personal wealth in offshore accounts to evade taxes. This is not surprising, as dictators are known for draining public coffers and hoarding the ill-gotten funds in secret accounts. What’s more disturbing is learning that well-known global businesses and civic leaders have been doing the same thing for decades, and getting away with it.

Mossack Fonseca specializes in setting up untraceable shell companies. There’s nothing overtly illegal about them, but they’re often used by political and financial elites to hide assets, dodge taxes, and launder money. Creating shell companies is a big business, and Mossack Fonseca is just one of many firms that do it. FACT (Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency) Coalition says shell companies house up to $21 trillion globally. (By way of comparison, the US gross domestic product for 2015 was $18 trillion.)

Too Big to Jail The firms employing the services of Mossack Fonseca include a rogues’ gallery of brand name corporations with a track record of breaking financial regulations with virtual impunity. Remember back in 2013 when HSBC was slapped with a $1.9 billion fine by the U.S. Justice Department for laundering drug cartel money? Its fine amounted to less than one tenth of its annual profits. And remember when UBS was caught in 2012 spreading false information to manipulate banking exchange rates? It was fined $1.5 billion, which sounds like a lot, until you learn UBS’ revenues are almost $40 billion a year. Read the rest

Outliers: the statistical mysteries that hold the key to understanding

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John Johnson and Mike Gluck's new book, Everydata: The Misinformation Hidden in the Little Data You Consume Every Day is a tour-de-force of statistical literacy. This excerpt, a chapter on understanding statistical outliers, is as clear an explanation of what an outlier is, and what it means, and why it matters, as you're likely to find.

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