The excellent Law and the Multiverse blog (which seriously considers legal questions arising from funnybooks) examines the legal options available to someone seeking to get a restraining order against Jolly Old St Nick. As with all stories whose headline ends with a question-mark, the answer to this one is "no," but the reasoning behind that "no" is a fascinating look at the law of protective orders.
We don’t think Santa’s behavior would meet this standard. People couldn’t have a reasonable fear of material harm because Santa has an unbroken record of hundreds of years of peaceful activity. It could be enough that he has actually caused material emotional harm to someone, except that the harm would have to be caused by contact or communication initiated by Santa. The problem here is that Santa doesn’t initiate communication; instead people write letters to him. Arguably he initiates indirect contact by entering people’s homes, but there’s no evidence that he enters homes where he is unwanted. In fact, staying up late to ‘catch’ Santa is traditionally considered to cause him not to visit. And of course visits from Santa Claus have rarely, if ever, caused someone to lose their job.
Law of Superheroes organizes the best material from Law and the Multiverse into a kind of first-year lawschool compressed into one set of covers where all the hypotheticals revolve around comic-book storylines. It's the best quick legal education going, really.
We obtain information from a variety of sources. Much of it comes from unsolicited letters sent to Santa by children all over the world listing specific items they would like to receive for Christmas. Often these letters convey additional information as well, such as the child’s hopes and dreams, how much they love Santa, and which of their siblings are doodyheads.
The letters also provide another important piece of information—fingerprints. We run these through databases maintained by the FBI, CIA, NSA, Interpol, MI6, and the Mossad. If we find a match, it goes straight on the Naughty List. We also harvest a saliva sample from the flap of the envelope in which the letter arrives in order to establish a baseline genetic identity for each correspondent. This is used to determine if there might be an inherent predisposition for naughtiness. A detailed handwriting analysis is performed as part of a comprehensive personality workup, and tells us which children are advancing nicely with their cursive and which are still stubbornly forming block letters with crayons long past the age when this is appropriate.
Our network of fully trained, duly deputized mall “Santas” file reports from the field, telling us which children are well-behaved, which are elf-phobic, which are prone to sphincter control issues, and which are squirmy beard-pulling monstrous little brats. Digital copies of photos taken with these “Santas” are automatically sent to our database for further evaluation, with particular attention given to the ones where the children are crying.
"King Boreas and the Vulcans" is a Star Trek-themed rewrite of a traditional mummer's play, by the delightful (and sadly departed) John M Ford and friends.
Kirk: In comes I, old Captain Kirk
All my fans know I’m a...great actor,
Brilliant novelist, and a swell guy besides
I come here from space
My rug glued in place
I come with my ship
To shoot from the hip
I come with my crew
Scott: It’s something to do.
Chekov: We know he’s a jerk.
McCoy: Yes, but it’s work.
Kirk: A ship, a ship
For me and my supporting cast
For we are the merry Starfleet
That seek out new worlds
We are the merry Starfleet
That necks with your girls
We are the merry Starfleet
All frequencies hail
"The Spirit of Christmas," a video from UK animator Cyriak, is not really like anything I've ever seen. It's definitely not for the faint hearted or weak of stomach. Don't watch it if, for example, you have an aversion to prehensile, tentacle-like red noses.
Zack Smith has done a deep roundup of the best in Christmas Specials, "with a number of links to unedited versions of lesser-known specials including an unedited MUPPET FAMILY CHRISTMAS with original commercials, a "Shalom Sesame" from Israel with a Hanukkah theme and a British airing of Raymond Briggs' THE SNOWMAN with a live-action intro by David Bowie as the grown-up version of the little boy in the story. The Star Wars special is not in here because, well...the world has suffered enough. Also wrote up a look at the many specials of Rankin-Bass, and how they do or don't tie into one another.
It's Christmastime, and if there's anything that can unite a nation, even one that doesn't universally love the holidays, it's a collection of wonderfully weird vintage Christmas videos. And even if you don't like the holidays, you'll probably still enjoy these strange (but fun) attempts at whimsy and festivity.
The video is freakish not for the video itself, but for how freakishly progressive it was when it was made -- in 1913!
Last year we released our production "Ruffus The Dog's Christmas Carol" online under a Creative Commons license and Boing Boing was kind enough to post about it.
It's that time of the year again and I just wanted to remind you the show is still online for folks to enjoy a full half hour of silly fun, puppets, songs and just a little of Charles Dickens too.
Ruffus The Dog started as a TV series in Canada on YTV and was nominated for and won several awards. As the creator of the series when I got the rights back I decided to put them all online under a Creative Commons share-alike license. The Christmas Carol was an experiment of sorts to find out what was possible with little or no budget. We will be creating more original short episodes of Ruffus for release online and I'm currently scripting a longer Steampunk Adventure for our puppet cast. The silliness continues.
Smithsonian's Food and Think blog has a (Northern-hemispherically biased) list of ideal Christmas/wintertime drinks — along with some cool history about where those drinks come from and how they're made. For example, Imperial Stout beer was invented in the late 1690s as a way to help delicious English stout beer survive frigidly cold Russian winters. Raise the alcohol content — and bam! — beer fit for a czar. — Maggie
And it's more than just an effect of infrared imaging. If you duck over to Joseph Stromberg's post at the Surprising Science blog, you'll see a photo of a real, live reindeer with an adorably red nose (and upper lip).
Turns out, it's the result of an evolutionary adaptation. Some (but not all) reindeer have noses full of densely packed blood vessels — a difference that makes those reindeer better at regulating their own body temperatures.
To come to the findings, the scientists examined the noses of two reindeer and five human volunteers with a hand-held video microscope that allowed them to see individual blood vessels and the flow of blood in real time. They discovered that the reindeer had a 25% higher concentration of blood vessels in their noses, on average.
They also put the reindeer on a treadmill and used infrared imaging to measure what parts of their bodies shed the most heat after exercise. The nose, along with the hind legs, reached temperatures as high as 75°F—relatively hot for a reindeer—indicating that one of the main functions of all this blood flow is to help regulate temperature, bringing large volumes of blood close to the surface when the animals are overheated, so its heat can radiate out into the air.
Also: red-nosed reindeer on treadmills, you guys. This is clearly the most adorable science of the holiday season.
Ray writes, "Some very talented gingerbread architects were able to convert Ray Keim's New Orleans Paper Model Kit into templates that they used to design and build a gingerbread version of Disneyland's haunted mansion. I thought it was brilliant!"