Could you get a restraining order against Santa?


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.

Santa and Restraining Orders

(Image: Original Bad Santa kicks arse, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from dancentury's photostream)

Santa's privacy policy


"Santa's Privacy Policy" is a McSweeney's classic from 2010. On the one hand, the joke is pretty much all in the headline and doesn't really need much elaboration. On the other hand, this is pretty well done.

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.

Santa’s Privacy Policy. (via Dan Hon)

(Image: Santa Claus, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from mattimattila's photostream)

Soviet space-program Christmas cards


"Soviet Christmas card" sounds like a mere kitschy improbability, but what if I told you that they were space-race-themed Soviet Christmas cards? It's a Christmas miracle, dude.

Old Soviet Christmas card collection (via Richard Kadrey)

Grendel as Grinch

Ross sez, "I was reading Thomas Meyer's great new translation of Beowulf when the annual showing of The Grinch came on. The potential for a mash-up overwhelmed me, and this is the result."

Every Scylding in Heorot liked mead a lot,
But Grendel the beast, roaring outside did not.

Grendel hated Scyldings, the whole Danish clan.,
Can I say why? I don’t think I can.

He spied on the Scyldings, he fumed and he wailed.,
He watched as in Heorot they drank mead and drank ale.

Grendel as Grinch

Star Trek mummer's play

"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

King Boreas and the Vulcans (via Making Light)

NSFC: Cyriak's horrific Christmas animation

"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.

The Spirit of Christmas (via JWZ)

Christmas specials: obscure, common, and weird


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.

The Spirit of Christmas Specials, Conclusion: Beyond Charlie Brown and the Grinch! (Thanks, Zack!)

Vince Guaraldi Trio: "My Little Drum," from "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

The Vince Guaraldi Trio performing "My Little Drum," from the CBS children's holiday special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

The best weird and wonderful Christmas videos you ever did see!

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!

Read the rest

Ruffus The Dog's Christmas Carol: CC-licensed Christmas kids' video

Robbo sez,

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.

Ruffus The Dog's Christmas Carol

What to drink this winter — according to Smithsonian

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.

Red-nosed reindeer are real

It's true! Science proves it!

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.

Read the full story

Via Bart King

Santacon 2012: Why the nose, Santa?

SantaCon 2012, official "Why the Nose" edition, San Francisco. Music by Kevin MacLeod, video by Mark Day.

Disneyland Haunted Mansion in gingerbread


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!"

New Orleans Square Gingerbread! (Thanks, Ray!)

Sciencey Christmas from Digital Science

The folks at Digital Science made a great, cute Christmas video -- I love the grand finale and the exploding pud!

Digital Science Video