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Open source seeds

Last week, the Open Source Seed Initiative released 29 new varieties of 14 different food crops. The new seeds cannot legally be brought under any kind of IP protection, nor can any future varieties bred or otherwise created from them. Maggie 18

Epigenetics could help explain differences between us and Neanderthals

Methylation — where a chemical compound attaches to DNA and changes the way that DNA is expressed without changing the DNA, itself — probably played a role in the difference between human body types and the bodies of Neanderthals. Maggie 10

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Jameson Stories: Ireland is a magical place

ADVERTISER MESSAGE: As we celebrate with all of our friends who make St. Patrick’s Day great, we raise a glass to Jameson for sponsoring this story.


Crypt under St. Michan's Church, Dublin

Ireland is a magical place. Everyone I met was wonderful and the beautiful terrain and sheer history of the island awed me. From the green countryside around Cork to Dublin's charming model of an ancient city living in modern times, I fell for Ireland over and over.

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Watch an earthquake slosh a swimming pool in Mexico City

A scary, but mostly harmless 7.2 earthquake struck Mexico City last week. Here's a fun game: Watch the earthquake slosh the water in a pool back and forth — then go compare the effects to animations of different types of earthquake waves. Maggie 4

"If I Only Had A Brain," the original version

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As part of Saturday's Record Store Day releases, The Wizard of Oz Soundtrack has once again become available on vinyl! The "75th Anniversary" edition is pressed on emerald green vinyl and includes a digital download of the original version of "If I Only Had A Brain" which you can hear above. Ray "The Scarecrow" Bolger's first recording of the tune, only rediscovered in 2009, was much mellower than the one ultimately picked for the film.

Casino sues poker star for using "marked" deck

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The Borgata Hotel Casino & Space is suing World Series of Poker star Phil Ivey for nearly $10 million for using what they claim are "imperfect" playing cards that gave Ivey a leg up. Borgata is also going after Gemaco, Inc., makers of the playing cards. From NorthJersey.com:

The suit alleges that the some of the cards made by Gemaco turned out to not have a perfectly symmetrical design on the back of the card. Ivey, the suit claims, was able to figure out what the first card to be dealt was – giving him a significant advantage over the “house,” or casino.

Ivey contacted Borgata officials in April 2012 and sought to play mini-baccarat for up to $50,000 a hand on the $1 million he would wire to the casino, according to the suit. Given Ivey’s high-roller status, the casino agreed to his request that he would be given a private area in which to play as well as provided with a card dealer who spoke Mandarin Chinese. The casino also agreed to let Ivey bring a guest to the table as well, to provide one purple deck of Gemaco playing cards for use, and for an automatic card shuffling device to be used.

According to the suit, “The pretext given for some of these requests was that Ivey was superstitious."

"Famed poker star Phil Ivey sued by Borgata for almost $10 million over alleged playing card scam" (Thanks, Gil Kaufman!)

Futility Closet Podcast #006: Texas Camels, Zebra Stripes, and an Immortal Piano

Hosted by Greg and Sharon Ross, Futility Closet is a celebration of the quirky and the curious, the thought-provoking and the simply amusing. This podcast is an audio companion to the popular website that catalogs more than 7,000 curiosities in history, language, mathematics, literature, philosophy, and art. In each episode we explore intriguing finds from our research, share listener contributions, and offer a contest in which listeners can match their wits.

The 1850s saw a strange experiment in the American West: The U.S. Army imported 70 camels for help in managing the country’s suddenly enormous hinterland. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll see how the animals acquitted themselves in an unfamiliar land under inexperienced human masters.

We’ll also learn a surprising theory regarding the origin of zebra stripes; follow the further adventures of self-mailing ex-slave Henry “Box” Brown; ask whether a well-wrought piano can survive duty as a beehive, chicken incubator, and meat safe; and present the next Futility Closet Challenge. (See show notes for the episode.)

This episode is brought to you by Audible, for a free audiobook of your choice and a free 30-day trial membership, go to audiblepodcast.com/closet

GET Futility Closet: RSS | On iTunes | Download episode | Listen on Stitcher

Boars, Gore, and Swords: Game of Thrones recap S04E03

Boars, Gore, and Swords is hosted by stand-up comedians Ivan Hernandez and Red Scott. In each episode they break down HBO's Game of Thrones and George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. They also talk about movies, TV, science fiction, fantasy, and lots of other things. NSFW.

“Breaker of Chains,” Season 4 Episode 3 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, takes a victory lap before dealing with the ripples of one of the biggest shocks to hit Westeros yet. Ivan and Red are joined by comedian Matt Lieb to discuss this episode which sets the stage for the rest of the season. We cover Sansa running into Gendry, Littlefinger doing Batman’s voice, the absolute worst kind of sexual act, the loudest slurping scene in modern television, The Hound going Galt, Samwell Tarly’s poor judgement, the return of The BORG (or Thenns), knife to horse combat, and a really respectable pyramid.

This episode is brought to you by:

Loot Crate, use code “boars” to get 10% off your subscription, it’s like a monthly Comic-Con in a box! Just go to lootcrate.com/boars.

Read Boing Boing's other GoT S04E03 recap here.

GET BGaS: RSS | On iTunes | Download episode

Video: tiny swarm robots for microscale manufacturing

SRI International is creating coordinated systems of tiny ant-like robots that can build larger structures. The aim is a swarm of magnetically-controlled bugbots that could construct electronic devices, conduct chemistry for lab-on-a-chip applications, or do other micro scale manufacturing. It's part of the US Department of Defense's "Open Manufacturing" program. (via Re/code)

An ecologist imagines the world's end

Paul Kingsnorth is an English writer whose environmental activism got him jailed in the 90s and praised by the archbishop of Canterbury and the Prime Minister in the 00s. His Dark Mountain Project, founded in 2009, is an outdoor festival for artists and writers, described this weekend in The New York Times' profile.
In the clearing, above a pyre, someone had erected a tall wicker sculpture in the shape of a tree, with dense gnarls and hanging hoops. Four men in masks knelt at the sculpture’s base, at cardinal compass points. When midnight struck, a fifth man, his head shaved smooth and wearing a kimono, began to walk slowly around them. As he passed the masked figures, each ignited a yellow flare, until finally, his circuit complete, the bald man set the sculpture on fire. For a couple of minutes, it was quiet. Then as the wicker blazed, a soft chant passed through the crowd, the words only gradually becoming clear: “We are gathered. We are gathered. We are gathered.” After that came disorder. A man wearing a stag mask bounded into the clearing and shouted: “Come! Let’s play!” The crowd broke up. Some headed for bed. A majority headed for the woods, to a makeshift stage that had been blocked off with hay bales and covered by an enormous nylon parachute. There they danced, sang, laughed, barked, growled, hooted, mooed, bleated and meowed, forming a kind of atavistic, improvisatory choir.

This is actually a pretty normal weekend for Worthing, England, but I digress. The story here is the unsettling quality of his manifesto, Uncivilization, which hammers at the "false hope" of much said in the name of environmentalism--a darker, doomier view of our ecological future that is, to some, a betrayal, a "troubling abdication." It has a counterpart in fiction: Kingsorth's novel, The Wake, is a "postapocalyptic tale set 1000 years ago", after the Norman invasion, composed in a hybrid of modern and old English.

Car appears out of nowhere, artificial entities panic

[Video Link] Temporal malfunction in sector a8fd-b4ec-dcb5-89ae (aka "Россия"). Explainer scripts have kept acceptance level of artents well below catastrophic trigger point. So far, no need run pre-event dataset. Will monitor and reassess in 5 zettacycles.

The Space Project: contemporary space music infused with Voyager recordings

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The Space Project is true space music, a lovely new compilation of songs made in part from samples culled from electromagnetic radiation fluctuations recorded by the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes, launched in 1977. The tracks by contemporary artists like Spiritualized, Beach House, Youth Lagoon, and The Holydrug Couple range from ambient soundscapes to modern prog to noisy space pop. The Space Project is available in multiple formats, including 12" vinyl and a beautiful 7" box set that was released on Record Store Day this past weekend by Lefse Records/Fat Possum. Seek out your preferred format at your local indie record shop! Sadly for me, I couldn't locate the 7" box set in my orbit.

The Space Project (Lefse Records)

Stream the whole album at NPR Music: First Listen: "The Space Project"

The soil at the bottom of Greenland

Scientists have found 2.7-million-year-old soil at the bottom of the Greenland ice sheet. The discovery challenges what we thought we knew about how glaciers work and could have implications for the effects of climate change. Maggie 4

Inside the vegetative mind

The invention of the artificial respirator in Denmark in the 1950s created more than just a new technology. It created a new class of being — the vegetative state. More than half a century later, scientists are still trying to understand what happens inside the minds of vegetative patients. Maggie 5

Art exhibition about urban legends

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"Hearsay: Artists Reveal Urban Legends" is a new group exhibition at California State University, Fullerton's Begovich Gallery where artists were asked to create pieces about modern day myths that resonate with them in some personal way. More than three dozen artists participated including Boing Boing favorites like Ransom & Mitchell, Jeffrey Vallance, Robert Williams, and Victoria Reynolds. Above, Chris Farling's "Sewer Gator." Below, Lew Delport's "The Goatman" and Ransom & Mitchell's "Teke Teke." (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

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