Barbie® I Can Be...™ News Anchor Doll, just $12.99, available this holiday season. They're not kidding about the choking hazard, either.
Above and below, photographs by National Geographic photographer Saul Schwarz, from Alma Guillermoprieto's story about the phenomenon of Santa Muerte in Mexico.
A BB feature about Blog Del Narco by fellow Boing Boing guestblogger Raul Gutierrez was the subject of a segment on the brand-new KPCC radio show hosted by Madeleine Brand (former host of NPR's "Day to Day," to which one Boinger also contributed).
Also of note, related to both Los Angeles radio journalism and the drug cartels in Mexico: Warren Olney's "To the Point" program on KCRW devoted the entire show today to all things narco, and about the "¿Que Quieren De Nosotros?" editorial mentioned here earlier this week. Details on the show here: "Another High Water Mark for Drug Violence in Mexico" (or, direct MP3 link here.)
A heavily sourced essay about the origins of Chewbacca? Yes, please.
Chewbacca didn't spring fully formed from George Lucas' head, writes Michael Heilemann. Instead, Chewie's essential Chewiness is built up from a mish-mash of ideas and references, apparently starting with one, Ralph Wookie, a Texan friend of Terry McGovern, a voice actor who worked on Lucas' 1970 film THX 1138.
Chewie went through several visual iterations, and the final inspiration for what we know today as the Chewbacca Look seems to have been copied from an illustration of a George R.R. Martin story. The key change: Ralph McQuarrie removed the breasts.
Ralph McQuarrie: "George also gave me a drawing he liked from a 1930s illustrator of science fiction that showed a big, apelike, furry beast with a row of female breasts down its chest. So I took the breasts off and added a bandolier and ammunition and weapons, and changed its face so it looked somewhat more like the final character, and I left it at that."
As is obvious from the following side-by-side comparison, the illustration McQuarrie is referring to wasn't decades old, but months, being none other than this one by Dune legend John Schoenherr, from the July 1975 issue of Analog.
The point of this essay, though, is not an expose, but rather an in-depth look at how creation works. Bits and pieces come together to form a whole. New ideas have always had inspiration in other people's ideas, which had inspiration in others'. It looks like Chewbacca wouldn't have existed as we know him without John Schoenherr's unintentional contribution to the process, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Read the rest
Zack sez ,"Jeremy Bastian -- who did that huge Little Nemo piece I sent you a few weeks ago -- is doing a fundraiser through Kickstarter to help put out a collected edition of his comic CURSED PIRATE GIRL using environmentally-conscious materials in the US. Different pledges are good for everything from an exclusive set of CURSED PIRATE GIRL buttons to a full signing event with 100 copies of the book. They have already raised nearly three times the initial amount they were looking for, but still need more to pull this off."
Where biotechnology is ultimately headed includes not only redefining what it means to be human, but redefining subsequent human rights as well. For instance, Dr. James Hughes, whom I have debated on his syndicated Changesurfer Radio show, wants transgenic chimps and great apes uplifted genetically so that they achieve "personhood." The underlying goal behind this theory would be to establish that basic cognitive aptitude should equal "personhood" and that this "cognitive standard" and not "human-ness" should be the key to constitutional protections and privileges. Among other things, this would lead to nonhuman "persons" and "nonperson" humans, unhinging the existing argument behind intrinsic sanctity of human life and paving the way for such things as harvesting organs from people like Terry Schiavo whenever the loss of cognitive ability equals the dispossession of "personhood." These would be the first victims of transhumanism, according to Prof. Francis Fukuyama, concerning who does or does not qualify as fully human and is thus represented by the founding concept that "all men are created equal." Most would argue that any human fits this bill, but women and blacks were not included in these rights in 1776 when Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence.Read the rest
Urinals that sort wee by alcohol content, Darmstadt, Germany It's not a urinal, is it? Overflowing urinal cascade Gentleman mistakes urinal and urinal cake for sink and soap ... Urinal targets and other helpful nudges Cute elephant urinal cleaning robot That's not a mouth-shaped urinal, it's a *travesty* Privacy urinals Read the rest
"There's something special about writing by hand, writing with a fountain pen, and there's something special about writing into a book, to take a blank book and turn it into an actual book. I guess there's a sort of superstitious or mystical aspect to it," Haldeman said. "I like the physical action of writing down by hand, and I don't just use it for writing my fiction. I carry a notebook and write down things to do, and I write out thoughts and stuff like that."Science fiction writer Joe Haldeman discusses unplugging to create Ridley Scott to adapt Haldeman's Forever War Joe Haldeman's excellent online diary Photos of science fiction writers' nests Read the rest
He added, "I think it goes way back to when I was a teenager, and I guess it's just a habit of thought that you either have or don't have. If I had had a thing like an iPad when I was a kid, then I never would have gotten into the habit of writing things down by hand."
Taping for the Blind is a Texas non-profit that does exactly what it says—turning printed material that isn't available in audio book format into custom-made tapes and CDs. They also do audio descriptions of live events, like the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and various theater performances. Volunteers read and describe publications by request, and one of the publications requested turns out to be Playboy. NPR interviewed Suzi Hanks, a radio DJ who took over Playboy duty after the guy who used to read it got married, and his wife asked him to stop.
Hanks reads the articles ... and describes the pictures. But that latter task is more than just titillatingly talking about tits.
"Basically I'm their eyes. All I'm doing is providing accessibility to what's there on the page," she says. "I don't have to try to be sexy when I'm describing the pictures. I'm just a woman reading it, and it comes out sexy whether I want it to or not."
It's more than just body parts, she says. "That would get boring. You're painting a picture. She's conveying something through her eyes, through her facial expressions."
Hanks will look for details in the photos like nautical sheets on the bed, or make observations like, "interestingly enough, in the centerfold, it looks as if the tattoos have been airbrushed out. The tattoos are gone."
With help from his friend Jake Keen -- an expert on ancient metal-making techniques -- the author dug up 81kg of ore and smelted it in the grounds of his house, using a makeshift kiln built from clay and hay and fuelled with damp sheep manure...Terry Pratchett creates a sword with meteorites (Thanks, Eric!)
He said: "It annoys me that knights aren't allowed to carry their swords. That would be knife crime."
(Image: Terry Pratchett, Powell's, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from firepile's photostream) Pratchett's Discworld: a reading-order guide Match it For Pratchett! Raising £500000 for Alzheimer's research ... Terry Pratchett: Doctor Who isn't science fiction Terry Pratchett has rare, early-onset Alzheimer's Terry Pratchett's "Making Money" -- economic comedy Terry Pratchett gets a knighthood Terry Pratchett fan-afghan -- the Pratchgan Pratchett donates $1 million to Alzheimer's research Read the rest
Laura Jernegan: Girl on a Whaleship (via IZ Reloaded) Stealthy anti-whaling powerboat Anne Frank's complete diary on display for the first time - Boing ... Secret Diary of a Specialist in Developmental Neurotoxicology and ... Bob Harris' photo diary of a trip to the North Korea border ... Diary of a UK journalist being hassled by goons at the Bilderberg ... Read the rest