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Space nerd family fun in LA this weekend: NASA JPL open house

Saturday and Sunday, June 9 and 10, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA opens its doors to the public for an annual Open House.

The event, themed "Great Journeys," will feature a life-size model of Curiosity, the rover currently bound for Mars aboard NASA/JPL’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft; demonstrations from numerous other space missions; JPL’s machine shop, where robotic spacecraft parts are built; and the Microdevices Lab, where engineers and scientists use tiny technology to revolutionize space exploration.

JPL Open House includes hands-on activities and opportunities to talk with scientists and engineers. For the first time ever, cell phone users, using text-message capabilities, will be able to take part in a mobile scavenger hunt. “The Voyage” scavenger hunt participants can search for secret capsules hidden across JPL and unlock secret codes.

JPL’s Facebook page is here. If you go and tweet from the event, use the #JPLOpen hashtag. Details are here, and more photos are here. (photo: NASA JPL)

Toddler kicked off plane after iPad deprivation tantrum

A family from Washington state had to cancel an island vacation when their flight was grounded after their 3-year-old son pitched a tantrum.

The toddler had been quietly playing with an iPad while waiting for the plane to take off, the father said. When the iPad was taken away—you know how all electronics must be stowed during takeoff and landing—all hell broke loose.

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Deep question about Public Enemy, from 7-year-old girl

Scott Matthews shared a photograph with me, and I'm sharing it with all of you, with his permission. His daughter Sasha handed him this note yesterday. Sasha is a pretty special girl, in no small part because she's already been on Boing Boing once before. What, indeed, does it really mean?

(thanks, Scott + Amy + Sasha)

The Bald Princess (a 4-year-old's drawing of Xeni, for women with cancer in chemo)

I've been blogging and tweeting about my experience in treatment for breast cancer, including what it's like to go through chemotherapy. The chemo drugs I received made all my hair fall out (not all kinds do, but mine did). I've been going around "commando," as people with cancer say—bald, no wigs. Scarves or hats only when it's too cold or sunny to go bare.

You do whatever works for you to get through this. Going around bare-headed is what works for me.

Julie Zwillich just tweeted me this fantastic drawing made for me by her four-year-old daughter. It's me. She calls it "The Bald Princess."

If you know a woman or girl receiving chemotherapy, maybe you'd like to share this with them, too. Good days always follow the bad.

What we teach children about police

"Someone is causing a lot of trouble."


Josh Stearns, a reporter who has covered the Occupy movement extensively, asks, "Why is this children's book teaching my kid about SWAT vehicles and Riot Control practices?" From his blog post:

Visiting the local library yesterday my son picked out a book all about police. I was stunned when, after pages and pages of info about police cars and police offices, there were these two pages about Riot Control Trucks and SWAT Vans.

Even after months of tracking conflicts between police and the press I still have a profound respect for much of law enforcement and the jobs they do in our communities. However, the descriptions of water cannons being turned on protesters and the taunting opening on the SWAT page, “Someone’s causing a lot of trouble…,” all seemed out of place. Given the increasingly militarized response we have seen to citizen protests, seeing Riot and SWAT teams portrayed this way in a children’s book was troubling.

More scans here.

If you'd like to pick up a copy as a gag gift for your favorite police-beaten Occupier, the book is "Police Cars." Google Books has a few scanned pages here.

Animated Russian "Winnie the Pooh" from 1972 is quite the Nietzschean bummer

[Video Link] SoyuzMultfilm's "Adventures of Winnie the Pooh," 1972, presents the iconic tale of Pooh and pals with a tone very different from more familiar adaptations. For starters, Pooh is an annoying, aggressive hedgehog of a bear; Eeyore seems to be paraphrasing Nietzsche, and needs antidepressants even more badly than his English-speaking cousin. Here's another, and another, and another, and another. Update: As blogged on Boing Boing previously, in 2008! (thanks, Rusalka!)

Just look at this banana peel trucker hat (for a banana)

Just look at it. Contributed to the Boing Boing Flickr Pool by BB reader Laser Bread, who explains:.

My kids were grumpy at breakfast this morning, so I had this idea to make a quick banana peel trucker hat for the banana to wear using the peel of the banana. This cheered them up and it made the banana look relatively hip.

How to make:

1 or 2 bananas. One to make the hat, one to model the hat. This could also be made using one banana. Carve the shape of the hat using an x-acto knife. Leave one of the banana peel sides longer, to make the rim of the hat. Most bananas come with a little sticker. Use this sticker to serve as the logo on the hat, if you want your hat to have a logo.

Simple project, takes about 5 minutes yet the memories will last a lifetime.

Memorable moments in motherhood, from 20 moms in Brooklyn

Jon Cotner from the Hairpin tells Boing Boing, "To celebrate Mother's Day, my fiancée Claire Hamilton and I talked with 20 moms during an overcast, leafy walk through Brooklyn. We asked them to describe memorable moments of their motherhood. Here's the link." Xeni

Cancer patients and nurses in Seattle Children's Hospital perform Kelly Clarkson's song "Stronger"

[Video Link] The pop hit, as performed by patients and nurses in the Hematology/Oncology ward of Seattle Children's Hospital. Not a big fan of Kelly Clarkson's music myself, but I can't help feeling admiration for the staff and people with cancer in this video. Anything that makes you feel stronger during this process is a wonderful thing. A behind-the-scenes video below.

Update: BB reader autark says,

My wife works in Hem/Onc @ Childrens and apparently Clarkson is all cool with this, and broadcast her response to a big screen they set up for the kids to see yesterday.

Oh yeah, and the film maker is/was a patient, he's been getting mobbed by media interviews for the past couple days.

And Clarkson's response is here. Very cool of her.

(HT: @scanman)

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To do in LA this Sunday: Organize a kid-friendly hackerspace

My friend Tara is organizing a meeting at Crashspace this Sunday for interested parties to discuss the possibility of creating a child/family-friendly hackerspace in the greater Los Angeles area. They're seeking volunteers, looking for an appropriate space, and brainstorming sustainability models. You can bring your kids to the meeting! Xeni

Babies driving robot wheelchairs (super cute video)

[Video Link]

Here's an amazing feel-good video with which to end your week, via the National Science Foundation. The really awesome footage starts around a minute and a half in.

"James C. (Cole) Galloway, associate professor of physical therapy, and Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering -- have outfitted kid-size robots to provide mobility to children who are unable to fully explore the world on their own."

The robotic assistance devices are designed to help infants whose mobility and independence is limited by conditions such as autism, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy.

I understand that these will be among the many exhibits on display at the USA Science Fest at the Washington, DC Convention Center on Sat., April 28th. Babies probably not included.

TSA agents harass 7-year-old girl with cerebral palsy and developmental disability

The Transportation Security Administration launched the “TSA Cares” program to assist disabled fliers just four months ago, but a story making the rounds today proves that the TSA definitely does not. The Frank family was traveling from New York City's JFK airport to Florida, and were abruptly pulled aside after a dispute over how their 7-year-old daughter Dina was screened. The child is developmentally disabled and has cerebral palsy. She walks with crutches and leg braces.

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Who did the TSA terrorize today? A 4-year-old girl. Why? She hugged her grandma.

PHOTO: Snapshot by Lori Croft of her 4-year-old granddaughter Isabella Brademeyer, in Wichita, Kan., where she was a flower girl at her uncle’s wedding. The child was harassed by TSA goons on the way back from that family event, for the crime of hugging her granny.


Earlier this week on Boing Boing, Cory blogged about a 95-year-old Air Force veteran who was robbed of $300 at a TSA checkpoint. After picking on the elderly, today the TSA is bullying children. A 4-year-old girl who was upset during a TSA screening at the Wichita, KS airport was forced to undergo a manual pat-down after hugging her grandmother. Agents yelled at the child, and called her an uncooperative suspect.

Nope, we're not making this up.

The child's mom, Michelle Brademeyer of Montana, shared the incident in a public Facebook post last week, and the story has since spread widely.

“They didn’t explain anything and she did not know what was going on,” the grandmother told the Associated Press. “She saw people grabbing at her and raising their voices. To her, someone was trying to kidnap her or harm her in some way.”

Think the TSA has apologized? Nah. The agency is defending its agents, despite promised changes in operational standards to "reduce pat-downs of children."

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Some justice at last, for space-loving teen podcaster paralyzed by bullies

sawyer.jpg

Photo : an iPhone snap I took of Sawyer (L) with space journalist Miles O'Brien (center) and astronaut Leroy Chiao (R) during the STS-135 SpaceFlightNow live launch webcast. This shot was taken minutes before the shuttle took off from launchpad 39A.

Sawyer2-(1).jpg

One of the bright spots in attending NASA shuttle launches last year with Miles O'Brien and the SpaceFlightNow webcasters was meeting a teen space enthusiast named Sawyer Rosenstein (web/Twitter). The 18-year old runs an awesome space podcast, does space education work with children, advocates for science and space awareness, and lots of other cool stuff. We invited him to write a guest feature for Boing Boing, and it is one of my favorite guest posts ever.

Sawyer is physically disabled, as a result of a brutal bullying incident at age 12 that followed many other bullying incidents in school—he reached out to administrators for help early on, and got none.

Today, 6 years after the sucker punch that permanently changed his body, Sawyer received some justice. A $4.2 million settlement with the school district governing the middle school where the attack took place. His family also reached a private settlement with the attacker's family.

That money won't erase the physical challenges. It won't undo the suffering he has endured. It won't make the countless surgeries he's gone through, and may yet again, go away. It won't ensure that the kid who bullied him doesn't harm someone again (the bully received only a few day's suspension after the attack). But as someone who is now personally aware of how much it costs to need ongoing medical care in America, I think it's great that medical bills will at least be less of a problem in his life, even if not fully covered.

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Kids narrate the lives of wild animals for "Planet Earth" promo (cutest. video. ever.)

[Video link]

Director Joe Sabia, who co-curates the Boing Boing in-flight television channel with me on Virgin America Airlines, has created this adorable spot for BBC America's natural history series Planet Earth (also available on DVD). In the promo, a series of 4-7 year old children take the place of series narrator David Attenborough—or, as he is known here, "Dabud Abunburble." You may well die of cute. Kids: Do not feel bad. I have been known to struggle over the pronunciation of Attenbooger's name, and the placing-on of headphones, too.