Earlier this month, I attended a two-day meeting at Pioneer Works, an art and innovation center in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The center is both physically beautiful and filled with interesting people from many disciplines doing work in open workshops. It was founded by sculptor Dustin Yellin, and the lobby has one of his remarkable, life-sized three-dimensional humaniform sculptures, composed of thousands of collaged magazine clippings pressed between many sheets of glass.
Laser cutters are machines that cut and engrave flat material – such as plywood, acrylic, chocolate, leather, cardboard, seashells, glass, even sheets of dried seaweed. Today, Glowforge introduced a low-price laser cutter that blows away the competition at a much lower price.
Glowforge is a game changer in many ways, and I haven't been this excited by a technology in a long time. The things you can make with one (see images below) are orders of magnitude better looking than things you can make with a 3D printer of the same price, and the Glowforge is much easier to learn how to use than a 3D printer.
Dan Shapiro, the founder of Glowforge (he's the creator of the Robot Turtles game), gave me a Skype video demo of the machine in action earlier this week. He showed me how to make a votive candle holder out of two different materials. He placed one sheet of thin walnut and another sheet of frosted acrylic on the Glowforge's cutting bed (which has a 12-inch x 20-inch working area). He opened his iPad, which had a live image of the cutting bed displayed on it (the Glowforge has a camera and is conected to Wi-Fi). Dan then dragged the cutting patterns for the pieces of the candle holder onto the video image of the walnut and acrylic pieces. This neat software solution for aligning material was developed by Dean Putney, who was a contractor for many years at Boing Boing, and now works for Dan in Seattle. Read the rest
Like a lot of roleplaying games, Undertale asks you to become a child. When you fall down a hole into an underworld populated with monsters, your path seems clear: set off on a brave journey across a hostile land, destroy the evil monsters you meet along the way, and emerge a hero.
Then, almost immediately, you meet a monster who doesn't want to fight. Its name is Whimsum and it is very frightened, ready to burst into tears at the mere sight of you. So it's your choice, hero: do you spare it or cut it into pieces?
Welcome to Undertale, a game where every battle is a choice between the complex morality of compassion, and the simplicity of the sword.
Other monsters you encounter are more aggressive, but just as complicated. One is simply depressed, weeping tears that drip down the screen and wound you drop by drop. One is deeply insecure and just wants someone to laugh at its jokes. One lovingly coats you in lava, believing for all the world that its fiery ministrations are healing you. Another, you're told, simply has a hard life.
Whatever else a monster is in this world, it's also a person, and every foe you encounter has its own fears, anxieties, and dreams. Maybe they're attacking you, as bullies and trolls often do, because they're hurting as well. Or maybe they're attacking you because they've always been told that monsters and humans are enemies, and that they're supposed to kill each other. Read the rest
This week, the "doomsday seed vault" (as it's known in headlines, anyway) made the news because scientists made the first "withdrawal" from the remote arctic store. But there's another reason to be excited about the underground vault on Norway's Svalbard archipelago. Weed! And when shit gets real, we're gonna need it. Read the rest
Banned Books Week is just around the corner and to help prepare readers for this event, the folks at Humble Bundle have put together a collection of challenged and banned comics.
A portion of the proceeds goes towards benefitting The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who helped curate this limited time bundle. Many notable creators are represented here including Alan Moore, Scott Snyder, Jeff Smith, Jeff Lemire, Garth Ennis, the Hernandez brothers, and even Cory Doctorow himself.
The Humble Comics Bundle: Forbidden Comics Supporting Banned Books Week runs for two weeks and ends Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 11 a.m. Pacific time.
For such a unique bundle about controversial comics, it only felt fitting to call upon an individual just as unique to provide the very first Humble Bundle intro; enter comics historian Craig Yoe, no stranger to the most salacious corners of comicdom.
Take it away, Craig!
Mother was horrified.
She discovered my gaily-painted childhood wooden toy box now had a big steel padlock on it that I had got from Miller's Hardware Store. And it had a hand scrawled sign defiantly affixed: KEEP OUT! THIS MEANS YOU!
Mom became hysterical when I refused her demands to open the box to reveal its hidden contents. She could only imagine what dark secrets it contained.
It WAS filled with terribly embarrassing stuff that I didn’t want anyone to see because it would reveal emblematic objects of my conflicted, tormented adolescence: “men’s magazines” and “children’s comic books.” Both types of opposing fare were dishonorable possessions for a 13 year-old. Read the rest
If I have to pick the single best Disney theme park in the world, it’s always going to be the one Walt built — Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It really is different, and better, than anyplace else and the people who run it and work there take special pride in that. But the best Disney Resort in the world, taking into account all its parks, hotels, special seasonal events, and transportation (don’t you hate waiting for those buses in Orlando?) has to be The Tokyo Disney Resort. It’s has the second best Magic Kingdom style park in the world, with many unique rides. They’re really big on seasonal events, too, and they go all-out for Halloween.
Plenty has been written about Cosplay (i.e., “costume” + “play”) in Tokyo, but people mostly focus on dressing up as manga and anime characters in Harajuku — on the Harajuku Jingu Bridge; coincidentally right next to the cicadas singing in Mejii-Jingu — and in Akihabara.
Less well known is that for precisely 10 days in early September and 7 days in late October, The Tokyo Disney Resort has official Cosplay days where adults are allowed to come to Tokyo Disneyland in full costume. Here, however, the only costumes allowed are Disney characters (no surprise). These are not the tired schleppers dragging their kids around you see in the U.S. In Tokyo Disneyland there is a regal quality to the care with which the cosplayers make the costumes and the pride which with they wear them. Read the rest
"Like the great whale, retain, O man! in all seasons a temperature of thine own." — Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
You may have read my previous article on Boing Boing, Escaping the New Media Cargo Cult. Well, I take it back. To find out why, keep reading...
If you have knowledge and experience to share, your heart's desire is simply to find a decent audience and make a modest living at talking to it; meanwhile some schmuck who drinks Soylent 2.0 racks up a MASSIVE LIST HELL YEAH with slickly baited copy and bulleted tips he found on the first page of Google results.
One obvious response to this conundrum is to learn how to bait better.
Way down on the other end of this particular spectrum, you've got Matthew Butterick.
Polymathically — it's a word! — Butterick is an attorney, a typographer, and a programmer, among other things. I first discovered his work when he shared Typography for Lawyers, a fascinating primer on how to design stand-out legal documents. (While ostensibly for lawyers, it clearly applies to non-legal documents too.)
Later on, Butterick created an online book for a general audience: Practical Typography. I love it; it’s the first resource on typography that I've actually enjoyed reading. Hundreds of thousands of people have visited the site—hand-crafted by Butterick — to learn the difference between kerning and leading.
Nowadays, people creating content for mass consumption devote most of their attention to the marketing and monetization. After months of crafting the perfect newsletter drip campaign, it often seems like experts spend ten, maybe fifteen minutes tops whipping up the content people are supposed to buy at the end of the funnel. Read the rest
The history of Communism intrigues me. I have traveled to and worked with game development companies in Russia, China, and Hungary. When I was growing up, I visited the Berlin Wall where my Father was stationed – he later spent time in the military on both the borders of then South Vietnam and South Korea.
Queue succeeds where Monopoly failed in two distinct areas. Monopoly was originally designed to illustrate the pitfalls of capitalism, but gameplay actually rewards it. And, let’s all be honest, Monopoly, is not the most fun game in our collections. Queue is both fun and successfully educates the player on some of the inherent problems of communism.
Queue was created by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance to ensure that a small portion of what it was like to live under Communist rule in the 1980s was kept alive. Specifically what is it like to shop in a country where production is controlled by the state and not the free market. For the MTV generation, you may remember that was the time of Solidarity/ Solidarność and Lech Walesa. You may have had a red and white pin with their logo on your jacket next to those of The Clash and Give Whirled Peas a Chance.
The game is beautifully crafted, with 40-page manuals individually printed in seven languages. The game instructions themselves only take up 15 pages, including the FAQ. The rest of the manual is devoted to history and photos of the lines themselves. Read the rest
She broke the silence, “Jared went in last week.”
“Where?” I knew, but I was being difficult.
“You know where: the clinic.”
Our living room was always small, but today it felt particularly cramped. We sat on opposite sides of the white microfiber couch. I stared at the TV.
“Is he good?” I asked.
“Yup. Got the dose yesterday. He’s recovering at home.”
When we got tested, I watched them take her blood. She was calm; I was a fucking wreck. The one thing our species wants and it comes down to a genetic lottery: if your mitochondria objects, get in line for the grave; if not, you’ve got a lot of living to do. Read the rest
This was a close call. A man saunters out of a building, pauses to inspect the bottom of his shoe, and is nearly guillotined by a falling sheet of glass. After the incident, which knocks off his headwear, he gets up and walks briskly in the opposite direction. Read the rest
Rick Lax is a magic trick inventor, author , and (non-practicing) lawyer from Las Vegas. I was introduced to him because we have the same book editor, Dave Moldawer. On his Facebook page, Rick posts videos of the tricks he's created. The thing I love about his videos is that he shoots them in a coffee shop with his mobile phone. The tricks are great and he has an appealing personality so the Starbucks production values are fine. I prefer his videos to the edgy, atmospheric videos that so many other magic trick sellers use.
Rick does not perform in front of live audiences, but on Monday he appeared on Penn & Teller: Fool Us with a memory trick. He wowed Penn & Teller and the audience by glancing at a packet of 21 cards, mixing them up, then separating the reds and the blacks without looking at the cards. Teller grabbed some of Rick's cards to see if they'd been marked or stripped or otherwise doctored but he came to the conclusion that they are ordinary cards. Penn & Teller were fooled and Rick won the challenge.
I asked Rick to tell me about his experience on the show and how he came up with the trick.
Tell me about your thought process when you were coming up with a trick to fool Penn & Teller
I picked my most deceptive trick. The whole point of the show is to fool Penn & Teller, and I knew I had to bring my A Game. Read the rest