Cibele and the end of an era for internet lovers

Nina Freeman's heartbreaking, intimate new game about young love in an online game points to fast-disappearing strangeness in virtual spaces.

America’s plague of real-life vampires, and more hard-hitting tabloid news this week


[My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing. Enjoy! - Mark]

“Hitler escaped” in a secret tunnel and fled to Argentina, "there really are vampires among us,” and Robert Wagner is “going to jail” for killing Natalie Wood.

It’s another fact-free fest in this week's soaring supermarket tabloids and scintillating celebrity magazines.

Frank Sinatra is this week’s punching bag. Ol’ Blue Eyes was a “cocaine gang overlord” according to the National Enquirer (which makes me view ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ in a completely new light) and “asked mob to whack Woody” Allen after the director cheated on Mia Farrow, according to the Globe.

So good to have a week when the tabloids aren’t giving us breaking news about who Sinatra was sleeping with 60 years ago.

Fortunately investigative journalism is still alive and kicking at Us magazine, with the startling revelations that Selena Gomez wore it best, TV’s ‘Minority Report’ actress Meagan Good carries Post-it notes, green tea and a miniature teddy bear in her handbag, and the stars are just like us: they exercise together, indulge in ice cream, and volunteer for charity (the latter proving that Us mag considers former president Jimmy Carter “a star.”)

Hitler’s escape and America’s plague of real-life vampires come courtesy of the National Examiner, whose reporters never met a conspiracy they didn’t like. Read the rest

Poetry from a polymath games legend: Raph Koster's "Sunday Poems"

Game designer Raph Koster is a polymath. A legendary game-designer (Star Wars Galaxies, Ultima Online, etc), author of one of the seminal texts on game design (A Theory of Fun), visual artist, musician -- and poet.

Pick-pocketed in Ho Chi Minh City: A cautionary tale


Although we hoped it wouldn't happen, we knew that being pick-pocketed on our Trip Around the World was a very real possibility. We tried to always be careful, especially in crowded places, but we just weren't careful enough in Ho Chi Minh City.

If you've ever visited Vietnam or even seen videos on YouTube, you know the streets are filled with an endless flow of motorbike traffic. There are plenty of cars on the road, too, but, as it was explained to us, Vietnam has an import tax of 200% on automobiles while motorbikes are bought and sold from flyers on the walls of cafes and restaurants for $200. And that means there are a lot more motorbikes than cars traversing the streets of Vietnam.

We'd been in Vietnam for more than a week, so we'd gotten used to the intensity of Vietnamese street traffic. We even got really good at crossing the street with (almost) no fear. Despite this familiarity, we were still a little surprised when we left The Secret Garden (a well-regarded, somewhat hidden rooftop restaurant located up four flights of stairs in an alley off Pasteur Street) to walk to Fanny's, an ice cream parlor where we had a reservation to enjoy a fancy 14-scoop ice cream fondue platter.

It was New Year's Eve, and a massive number of people and motorbikes were clogging the city's streets like nothing we'd seen before. HCMC has a population of almost eight million people, and it felt like every one of them was either driving through the heart of District 1 on a motorbike or walking toward Công viên 23 Tháng 9 (Park September 23) to get a good view of the upcoming New Year's concert and fireworks show. Read the rest

Students force University of Missouri president to resign over lack of action on racism on campus

The University of Missouri's president Tim Wolfe resigns after protests.

At the University of Missouri, a graduate student went on a hunger strike, students and teachers marched and staged sit-ins, and 32 black football players refused to play until the university president, Tim Wolfe, resigned. Today, he did.

Read the rest

Graphic novel version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


Troy Little created a graphic novel version of Hunter S. Thompson's gonzo memoir, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and he is keeping a comic book diary of his book tour. Here are a couple of pages.

Here's the first seven pages:

Read the rest

Moon Photography 101


Are you planning on taking a trip to the Moon? If so, you'll want to create a commemorative photo album.  

The moon is a pretty desolate place and the truth is, you just don’t have a whole lot to work with. You’ve got moon dust, some craters and if you’re lucky, you’ve got some shadow and light.

Read the rest

Excerpt from The Biographies of Ordinary People, by Nicole Dieker


Summer 1989

Natalie wore a red-and-white checked dress with strawberry buttons, and she could feel the ends of her hair brush her chin. She held on to Mommy’s purse with one hand as Mommy pushed the stroller and Meredith walked a few steps ahead, in her dress that was blue.

Yesterday Mommy had given them afternoon baths and then asked them to go out on the front porch and sit still while she cut their wet hair. She asked them not to put their feet near the broken part of the step because Daddy hadn’t fixed it yet. Then Mommy put one knee on each side of Natalie to hold her in place as she cut and combed and cut again, and pulled Natalie’s hair straight with her fingers to make sure it was even.

They all had just-alike hair now, all new-school just-alike hair and different colored barrettes that had come from the same package. Natalie’s barrettes were red, and Meredith’s was blue, and Jackie’s was yellow. Mommy had let them toss the old hair in the yard, for the birds. Meredith had not been happy.

Now they were going to school for Orientation. They were close enough that Natalie could see the tent. She had never seen a school with a tent before. When they lived in Portland, she had gone to preschool.

They stopped at the crosswalk and looked up and down the empty street for cars, because Rosemary knew you had to do it every time or one of her girls would forget, when they were older. Read the rest

The President and The Yes Men

"Quick question," I asked the newly-minted University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld during his job talk. "Are you a performance artist?" As I watched Harreld's lackluster presentation -- filled with the kind of empty business jargon often used by prankster-activists The Yes Men, who had just visited campus -- I wondered if it could possibly be real, if it was a put-on.

British government will (unsuccessfully) ban end-to-end encryption

Home Secretary Theresa May has introduced the long-awaited, frequently assayed Snoopers' Charter, and it is a complete disaster.

Made to Kill: 1960s killer-robot noir detective novel

In Made to Kill, Adam Christopher presents us with a mashup of Raymond Chandler and Philip K Dick: the world's last robot (all the others were destroyed after they stole everyone's jobs) and his boss, a building-sized computer, who operate a private detective agency that's a front for an assassination business. And business is good.

Citizen Maths: free/open adult math education for practical real-world numeracy

Without scientific understanding, we don’t run the government, the government runs us” -Carl Sagan, in his final interview.

Last week we released a big batch of new CC-BY licensed content for Citizen Maths a free online course for adults who want to improve their grasp of maths at what in the UK is known as Level 2 (the level that 16 year old school leavers are expected to reach, though many do not).

Why do people put broomsticks in trees in Brooklyn?


Jeff Newelt says, "Here's a story from Dean Haspiel's Beef With Tomato, a collection of autobiographical comics with some essays that cover Dean's move from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Dean as you may know, drew The Quitter graphic novel for Harvey Pekar plus many American Splendor stories, and he collaborated with Jonathan Ames on The Alcoholic graphic novel, and also drew the opening title sequence for Bored To Death Beef With Tomato is published by Dean's own Hang Dai Editions imprint (distributed by the newly revamped Alternative Comics) that he started with fellow cartoonists including Gregory Benton, Joshua Neufeld and the late Seth Kushner."

Read the rest

Kim Stanley Robinson's "Aurora": space is bigger than you think

Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora is the best book I read in 2015, and by "best" I mean, "most poetic" and "most thought provoking" and "most scientific," a triple-crown in science fiction that's practically unheard of. I wouldn't have believed it possible, even from Robinson, had I not read it for myself.

The Candy Hierarchy 2015: your essential guide to Halloween treats


(View this graphic as a huge PDF)


It’s always about the candy. The Candy Hierarchy is full up with this “joy induction” measurement, this thing that the co-principle investigators (PIs) Cohen and Ng go on about each year. From 2006 to 2013, the PIs conducted a longitudinal study, more or less guided by PI expertise and whim (or whimsical expertise) and possible corporation sponsorship. Research by others in the field sought to refute the findings, obviously unsuccessfully. Yet the PIs were so moved by the yearly outpouring of commentary that they opened up the study to additional data sources, namely people. People who the PIs surveyed. Or is it whom? Anyway, nobody cares - this is about sugar. The 2014 Candy Hierarchy was thus defined by data analysis of 43,767 votes obtained from 1286 individuals. Good for them. But not good enough for science. Because the 2015 Candy Hierarchy doubled down and reworked the whole thing with all kinds of more stuff. This hierarchy therefore presents the newly calculated 2015 rankings, based on a total of 518,605 data points obtained from 5459 individuals in a randomized fashion. It also provides the raw data from a secondary study that sought to understand the character of the survey takers, or rather how character affects joy induction. It’s all in there, just go check out the figures. TRANSCRIPTION OF THIS MORNING’S CONFERENCE PROCEEDING DISCUSSION, WITH DR. COHEN AND DR. NG.

BC: Don’t you love how they call us Dr.?

DN: I don’t mind. Read the rest

Hooray! I’m not the stupidest person at the 2015 Trivia Championships of North America

Photo by Dan Avila

It’s day one of the 2015 Trivia Championships of North America (TCONA) and already there’s been an “incident.”

We’re oblivious to the unfolding disaster as we mill around the Havana Room of the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas. Approximately half of the 200 or so registrants have just finished playing the First Quiz of TCONA, a 100-question written exam covering everything from Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina cleaning regimen to French World War I flying aces.

But now we’re ready for 5x5, the Jeopardy style game that is a TCONA favorite. And there’s no 5x5 to be had.A couple of guys wearing sports caps and jerseys break unexpectedly into show tunes. The rest of us Monday morning quarterback the First Quiz.

We agree that the test’s biggest stumper was to name the most recent Mexican-born winner of an acting Oscar.

I had immediately thought of Anthony Quinn, who was born in Mexico and won two Oscars for Best Supporting Actor in the 1950s (for Viva Zapata! and Lust for Life). I eventually settled on the equally wrong Salma Hayek, who was nominated for Frida but didn’t win.

Warren Usui wracks his brain for an answer. Photo courtesy of Dan Avila.

The correct answer was what we in the quizzing world call a YEKIOYD: you either know it or you don’t. As it turned out, almost no one knew that Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) was actually born in Mexico. For all the brain power in the room, there are still things even most of us don’t know. Read the rest

Another fact-challenged week in the latest tabloids


[My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing. Enjoy! - Mark]

George Clooney and Amal are headed for a "$220 million divorce," Lamar Odom's "suicide note" has been found, and Khloé Kardashian "breaks her silence."

It's another fact-challenged week in the latest tabloids.

Thankfully we have hard-hitting investigative reporters to tell us that Selena Gomez wore it best, Carrie Underwood's parents almost called her Stacy, Alanis Morisette carries dental floss in her handbag, and that the stars are just like us: they "text on the go," "share snacks," "take pictures" and "love to shop."

I feel better just knowing that.

So, what are the National Enquirer's "dark secrets that will destroy George & Amal"? Photos of Clooney's former E.R. co-star Noah Wyle giving George a kiss on the cheek. At a public movie premiere. Twenty years ago. And from the photos, George isn't even enjoying the playful peck. Two guys messing around for the cameras on a Hollywood red carpet two decades ago - sounds like grounds for divorce for me.

Has Khloé Kardashian broken her silence as People magazine's cover claims? Read the small print, and you learn that she gave the interview "just hours before Lamar Odom was found unconscious." So she couldn't even begin to comment on a tragedy which hadn't yet occurred. Read the rest

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