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Quote of the day, from Jean Paul Gaultier

"Do you know that cats can't wear corsets? They can't stand! Not at all! They just fall over. I know because I tried!"—Words of wisdom from famed fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. (via Mister Jalopy)

WTF: "Kids' lingerie" photos featuring Miley Cyrus' 9-year-old sister on a stripper pole?

nnoooo.jpg Update: the photos are real, but the clothing company involved says there's no lingerie line, and they're not responsible for how the child celebrity linked with their line is accessorized or portrayed. "We just make tutu dresses, tank tops attached to tutus," says the founder. Worth noting: whether or not you call it "kid's lingerie" (gag), the company did link to the "girls on stripper poles" photos directly from their website, and noted the name of the celebrity kids in their garments, which implied endorsement.

The great Chris Rock once said (I'm paraphrasing a bit), you know you've really fckd up as a parent if your daughter ends up on a stripper pole.

The 9 year old sister of Disney megastar Miley Cyrus is reported to be promoting a (man this feels weird to type) lingerie line for children. The highly sexualized photos that appear to to promote that clothing line show children posing around a stripper pole. Related images basically present the kids as cute li'l whores. I just vomited in my keyboard.

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Failed project: goldfish in a light fixture



Make: Online is featuring a number of first-hand accounts of failed projects, big and small. The first in the series is about Sean Michael Ragan's attempt to make a combination light fixture / goldfish bowl. I don't see any failure here. This looks like a big win, especially since Sean used a rubber goldfish, which is probaby impervious to suffering.

First problem: the globe on my porch light was frosted and I sure wasn't going to spend good money to buy a clear one. Clever solution: Etch the frosting off the globe I had using 50% concentrated hydrochloric acid. It worked great! And generated only 1000 mL of toxic chemical waste!

Next problem: I didn't want to use actual water in the globe. This was an electrical device, after all, and as Newton's Third Law teaches us, water + electricity = bad. So I settled on mineral oil. Which is, you know, flammable and stuff, but, hey, at least it wouldn't short anything out or cause rusting. I glued the fish and the plant to some rocks, arranged them tastefully in the bottom of the globe, and poured in the oil.

Failed project: goldfish in a light fixture

Haitian Voudu ceremony in Brooklyn


A photo and audio essay by photographer Stephanie Keith from the American Public Media "Speaking of Faith" program. Voudu Brooklyn, from this larger special episode on that program about the living voudu faith of Haitian expatriates in NYC. Program audio is here in MP3 form. (thanks, Trent)

Proto Pee-Wee, 1957


The wonderful pop Americana historian Charles Phoenix shared this remarkable photo of an Ur-Pee-Wee from 1957.

A man posing between a beautiful bongo drum and colorful display of plastic wrapped jazz albums predicts the Pee-Wee Herman look. Strike a pose there is nothing to it! That gray glen plaid suit over a white shirt finished with a red bow tie is in no uncertain terms an AMERICANA classic of the highest order. And so is Pee-Wee.
Proto Pee-Wee, 1957

Gorgeous steampunk kitchen sink


This lovingly-made steam punk faucet set would make washing up a real treat.

Phil Foglio on why he posted his Hugo-winning comic online

Mike sez, "Phil Foglio describes why he posted Hugo-winning comic Girl Genius online for free."
First of all, printing comic books is expensive. I figured that by not having to do the comic book we were saving close to $20,000 a year. When you lay out a comic book and then lay out a graphic novel, it's two entirely different jobs. You have to do it all over again. All we do now is sell the collections. Also, printing the comic was really expensive, and we were in a cash crunch at a particular time and we were like, "Is this really worth it?"

And thirdly, for years people had been coming up to me and saying "I would like to get into comics" and I had been saying "Screw comics. Do a webcomic. It's the wave of the future and your production costs are super low," and eventually I realized that instead of just giving this advice I should take it.

A lot of the success of Girl Genius I think could only have been done by a person like myself who had a long career building up an established name and being in independent publishing, because that meant I was publishing my own books. So when Girl Genius went online, we were able to sell people Girl Genius books from day one, whereas almost everybody, who starts a webcomic has to collect material before they get a book. It takes them sometimes up to two years before they can begin to monetize our core product. We went in with a functioning store, and all we had to do was say "Like it? Buy it now."

Unbound: Talking with Phil Foglio

Video: Annual bean-throwing festival in Japan

In Japan, February 3rd is Setsubun no hi. Technically the day symbolizes the first day of spring, but this year, with snow from Monday night still lingering on rooftops, it hardly felt like it. Most of us who grew up here think of Setsubun simply as the annual bean-throwing festival. It's a sort of follow up to New Years — to bring good luck in and keep bad luck out, we throw roasted soybeans inside and out while reciting the mantra: "Oniwa soto! Fukuwa uchi!" or, Demons out! Good luck in! After the ceremony, everyone gets to eat the same number of soybeans as his or her own age.

This year, for the first time in at least a decade, I happened to be home in Tokyo for Setsubun so I took a short pilgrimage to a shrine in the city where celebrities gather every year to throw good luck soybeans at the crowds. That's where I took this video just a few hours ago. The people in ceremonial coats on top of the balcony are TV stars, athletes, and singers who have been invited to partake in the festivities; the guy in the shiny cone hat is the head priest at the shrine; and the dozens of paper bags and hats being held up from below belong to those of us who went there in hopes of scoring some extra luck for the year 2010.

The video is a bit long, but if you stick around (or skip) to the end you can see me pick up a bean from the ground and eat it.

Derelict hotels around the world

Here's a collection of photos of 24 rotting, abandoned hotels around the world, some of them looking like horror movie sets, others like enormous follies, and still others like faerie palaces. Rotting stuff kicks ass.

Graham Hotel: You don't normally think of people seeking out gold in Georgia but that's exactly what happened in the town of Auraria before everyone started to head west. When the California gold rush happened, Auraria became a ghost town just like many western towns eventually became. There remain a few 19th Century buildings there today, including the abandoned Graham Hotel sometimes just called the Auraria Hotel.
Photos of 24 abandoned and decayed hotels from around the world (Thanks, Mr Jalopy!)

Star Wars sneakers by Adidas

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Adidas released a line of Star Wars trainers. Some of them are inspired by various characters or spaceships, like a Stormtrooper, Tie Fighter, or X-Wing pilot (above). One style has several iconic scenes emblazoned right on the shoes. Each pair comes in a blister pack, inspired I guess by the old action figures. I can't decide if I like the line or find it ultra-cheezy, or both, but one thing I'm certain of is that the ones priced at $200/pair are rather spendy. The adidas Originals Star Wars Collection for 2010

Geek graffiti in bathroom

I got a chuckle out of this geek graffiti in the bathroom of a Chinese restaurant near UC Berkeley. I've seen this gag before in San Francisco, but larger on an outside wall.

Evoke: alternate reality game to help young people solve poverty, hunger, disaster relief

Master alternate reality game designer Jane McGonigal's latest venture is Evoke, a project to connect young people in Africa to their counterpars in the the developed world "to empower young people all over the world, and especially in Africa, to start tackling the world's toughest problems: poverty, hunger, sustainable energy, water security, conflict, disaster relief, health care, education, human rights."

The game's motto is "If you have a problem, and you can't solve it alone, EVOKE it," and it's reminiscent of Warren Ellis's fantastic comic Global Frequency -- a loose network of people with diverse skills working for everyone's mutual benefit to solve real-world problems.

Urgent Evoke - A crash course in changing the world (via Wonderland)

Video: Timothy Leary at Folsom Prison

From the Internet archive, bOING bOING patron saint Timothy Leary interviewed in Folsom Prison. "My main message is 'Use your head!'" It was in prison that Tim wrote my favorite of his books, Terra 2: A Way Out and Neuropolitcs. Internet Archive: Timothy Leary Archive (Thanks, Chris Arkenberg!)

Wade Davis on voodoo, the Haiti quake, and Pat Robertson

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Anthropologist Wade Davis is an incredibly engaging and eloquent explorer of the world's cultural diversity, what he calls the Ethnosphere. He has written a slew of amazing books about the dangers faced by disappearing cultures, both to the people whose vibrant cultures are getting wiped out, and to us. His latest book is The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, based on his CBC Massey Lectures last year, but he is perhaps best known for The Serpent and the Rainbow (1985), an illuminating study of Haitian voodoo and zombis. National Geographic interviewed Davis about the earthquake in Haiti, voodoo, and Pat Robertson's idiocy. From National Geographic:
What do you think of Pat Robertson's recent remarks that this month's earthquake in Haiti was God's revenge for a pact Haitian slaves made with the devil to overthrow French colonists in the late 1700s?

Cruel, ignorant, unforgivable, the ravings of a lunatic. He doesn't even know what he's talking about.

What happened--according to both historical record and the founding history for the Haitian state--was that there was a voodoo ceremony where the symbol of freedom sang out, which was the sound of the conch trumpet [spurring African slaves to rebel against French coffee and sugar plantation owners in 1791].

In the same way that we speak so reverentially of Washington crossing the Delaware, that was the catalyst of the slave revolt. It was the only successful slave revolt in history [to have won control of a country], and it's said to have begun with a voodoo ceremony.

So Pat Robertson is saying by that comment that voodoo itself is the devil. Voodoo is not a black magic cult, nor does it have anything to do with a Christian notion of the devil.

All he's saying by that comment is that all African religion is devil worship, and he's revealing not only his ignorance about what voodoo really is, but also his bias that any religion not his own is devil worship.

For a man who aspired to the presidency he revealed himself to be remarkably unschooled in American history.

Had it not been for the revolutionary slaves of Haiti, we might well be speaking French in much of what is today the U.S.A.

Napoleon at the height of his power dispatched the greatest military force ever to sail from France. Its mission was twofold: Crush the slave revolt in Haiti, and then proceed up the Mississippi, hem in the expanding 13 Colonies, and reestablish French dominance in a continent that only 30 years before at the Treaty of Paris had become British North America.

Thanks to the Haitian patriots, the French armada never reached New Orleans [and Napoleon decided to sell much of what is now the western U.S. via the Louisiana Purchase.]

"Haiti Earthquake & Voodoo: Myths, Ritual, and Robertson"

An effective hipster RPG concept

Forget Mass Effect. Try Mass Affect, the hipster RPG. [Gamer Melodico via @leighalexander]

First Bill Watterson interview in 15 years

Chris sez, "Bill Watterson, creator of the timeless comic classic Calvin & Hobbes, looks back on the strip with no regrets in his first interview in 15 years. Short, but definitely worth reading."
By the end of 10 years, I'd said pretty much everything I had come there to say.

It's always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip's popularity and repeated myself for another five, 10 or 20 years, the people now "grieving" for "Calvin and Hobbes" would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I'd be agreeing with them.

I think some of the reason "Calvin and Hobbes" still finds an audience today is because I chose not to run the wheels off it.

I've never regretted stopping when I did.

Bill Watterson, creator of beloved 'Calvin and Hobbes' comic strip looks back with no regrets (Thanks, Chris!)

(Image: Hobbes and Calvin, a Creative Commons Attribution photo from walknboston's photostream)

EFF's 20th birthday party, DNA Lounge, San Francisco, Feb 10

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is turning 20 (!), and they're throwing a hell of a birthday party in San Francisco on Feb 10:
Join the celebration of EFF's 20th year defending your digital rights! Our birthday fundraiser on February 10th will be hosted by beloved TV geek Adam Savage at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco, where he will celebrate EFF's two decades as only he can, with the help of many EFF legends and luminaries!

DJs Adrian & the Mysterious D, the duo that founded the seminal, globe-trotting mashup party "Bootie," will get people moving with their genre-mashing blend of tracks, with guest DJs dropping sets throughout the evening.

Doors open at 8 p.m. We'll be asking for a $30 donation at the door to fund our work defending your digital freedom.

WHAT: EFF's 20th Birthday Fundraiser with Adam Savage and Surprise Special Guests!
WHEN: Wednesday February 10, 2010, Doors open at 8 pm, Asking for a $30 donation

WHERE: DNA Lounge, 375 Eleventh Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

Please RSVP to This is an all ages event.

EFF's 20th Birthday with Adam Savage and Friends

Wizzywig 3: "Fugitive" -- hacker history comic turns up the heat

Over the weekend, I had the extremely pleasurable experience of reading the third volume of Ed Piskor's kick-ass hacker-history comic WIZZYWIG, entitled "Fugitive." Piskor's series tells the fictional story of Kevin "Boingthumb" Phenicle, a hacker kid who becomes the center of a nationwide manhunt after a hysterical press and a crackdown on hackers brands him the most dangerous man in America.

In "Fugitive," Kevin goes underground, and Piskor does a wonderful job of fictionalizing the techniques used by fugitives to forge and maintain secret identities, as well as the difficulties they face in maintaining their cover while running from the law.

Piskor really keeps the heat up in this volume, pulling off a gripping story with lots of good, meaty forbidden knowledge and insight into the hacker mindset. Ed publishes and sells the series himself, and the first two volumes are also online as free PDFs. They're well-made books, and cracking good reads, a fictionalized rendition of Bruce Sterling's Hacker Crackdown crossed with Steven Levy's Hackers.


(Thanks to Ed Piskor for sending me a review copy of "Fugitive"!)

Scalzi explains Amazon's tactical mistakes

John Scalzi brings the sarcasm and the smarts in this cogent analysis of why it was strategically foolish for Amazon to delist Macmillan's titles over the weekend, without any announcement, and for reasons that the authors and readers of those books had no control over.
3. Amazon Lost the Author's Fans. The interesting thing about the fans of authors: They feel somewhat connected to their favorite authors. So when their favorite authors kvetched on their blogs and Facebook pages and Twitter feeds about the screwing Amazon was giving them, what did many of these fans do? They also kvetched on their blogs and Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. So in pissing off a myriad of authors, Amazon also pissed off an exponential number of book readers, many of whom followed their favorite authors' leads in complaining about Amazon, and who themselves were read and followed by an exponential number of others. Even on a weekend, the traditional slow time for the Internets, that's a lot of pissed-off people.

So, two and a half days of the Internet being angry at Amazon. To be sure, there were people taking the side of Amazon, too. But those people lacked the social cohesion of an aggrieved class (writers) backed up by a mass of supporters -- not to mention the relatively high profile of these writers online, which, if you were a journalist looking for reaction quotes while on deadline, made them the go-to sources.

All The Many Ways Amazon So Very Failed the Weekend

Clay Shirky on information overload versus filter failure

This Clay Shirky talk from Web 2.0 Expo NY ("It's Not Information Overload. It's Filter Failure") challenges the idea that we've got information overload problems (we've had more books than any human could read for hundreds of years), what we have is a series of filter failures, as our systems for managing information abundance are swamped by the growth of information.

Web 2.0 Expo NY: Clay Shirky ( It's Not Information Overload. It's Filter Failure. (via Joho the Blog)

Amazon: we'll agree to Macmillan's terms

Amazon says that it will accept publisher Macmillan's preferred publishing and distribution model.
We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books.
The battle over pricing conceals a more intricate and important one over Amazon's place in the book-buying ecosystem [Charles Stross]. Announcement: Macmillan E-books [Amazon] Previously: Amazon and Macmillan go to war: readers and writers are the civilian casualties; Macmillan CEO on Amazon deletepocalypse; Scalzi and MacMillan v. Amazon

Macmillan CEO on Amazon deletepocalypse

John Sargent, Macmillan USA's CEO, has issued a statement on the Amazon deletion of an appreciable fraction of all of English literature from its store. He confirms that this is a strong-arm tactic in a pricing war. (via Making Light)

Scalzi and MacMillan v. Amazon

John Scalzi says smart things about the Macmillan/Amazon spat: "If Amazon is willing to play chicken with my economic well-being -- and the economic well-being of many of my friends -- to lock up its little corner of the ebook field, well, that's its call to make. But, you know what, I remember people who are happy to trample my ass into the dirt as they're rushing to grab at cash."

Terry Bisson's "Catch 'Em in the Act" -- Vonnegut-esque absurdist sf podcast

This week on the excellent short fiction podcast: Terry Bisson's absurdist social commentary "Catch 'Em in the Act." This is vintage Bisson, a simple-seeming tale told with the sneaky light touch of Kurt Vonnegut. As a bonus, Terry himself reads for the podcast, which is a goddamned treat, because I could listen to that dry, wry southern lilt all day long.

In "Catch 'Em in the Act," Lou is a loner and a loser who orders a "Crimestoppers" camcorder from eBay, and discovers that whenever he points it at someone, they commit crimes. All Lou wants is to find friendship, and maybe a girlfriend, but getting people to commit crimes is a tricky method for accomplishing this.

Lou was almost thirty. He had a job and an apartment, but he was lonely. He didn't have any friends. He didn't know why; he just didn't.

So he did what everyone who is lonely does: YouTube and eBay. One day it was eBay.

"Say, look at this!" he murmured. Lou often murmured to himself.

Catch 'em in the Act!
BUY IT NOW: $19.95
Brand New in Box.
Batteries Included.
One to a Customer.
Shipping, $4.99

That didn't seem like all that much. The shipping wasn't bad either. That's usually where they get you. So Lou did what every lonely person with PayPal does. He clicked on BUY.

Four days later, it came. It was about the size of a cell phone, with a little viewscreen that folded out to one side.

It only had two buttons: SHOOT and PLAY. Not a lot of features. But the price was right.

Catch 'Em in the Act (audio)

Catch 'Em in the Act (text)

MP3 link

Podcast feed

Sailor Twain: beautiful graphic novel being serialized on the web

Mark Siegel, the editorial director of the remarkable graphic novel publisher FirstSecond, has begun serializing his comic "Sailor Twain, or the Mermaid in the Hudson" on the web. This is Siegel's labor of love, a wonderful and weird comic that he's been working on for five years now. It's damned exciting to find it online!

Sailor Twain (Thanks, Mark!)

(Disclosure: I am currently in contract negotiations with FirstSecond for a graphic adaptation of one of my stories)

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation signs up with weird American copyright bounty-hunters

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has signed up with iCopyright, the American copyright bounty hunters used by the Associated Press, to offer ridiculous licenses for the quotation of CBC articles on the web (these are the same jokers who sell you a "license" to quote 5 words from the AP).

iCopyright offers "licenses" to use taxpayer-funded CBC articles on terms that read like a bizarre joke. You have to pay by the month to include the article on your website (apparently no partial quotation is offered, only the whole thing, which makes traditional Internet commentary very difficult!). And you have to agree not to criticize the CBC, the subject of the article, or its author. Thanks for fostering a dialogue, CBC!

The cherry on the cake? iCopyright offers a reward of up to $1,000,000 for snitching on bloggers who don't pay Danegeld to Canada's public broadcaster to quote the works they funded.

CBC's new licencing plan: Pay to Print, Email, and Blog, and outsource enforcement to American Copyright Digital Rights Bounty Hunters (Thanks, Cameron!)

Flickr to double its Commons collection

Jayel sez, "Flickr staff Cris Stoddard has commented on the Indicommons blog that the Flickr Commons will double the number of participating institutions this year from 31 to 60 GLAMs (art galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) this year alone. I believe that the Commons is Flickr's singularly most important cultural contribution to the world. And it doubling in size means more of the world's photographic heritage and history will be shared with its citizens."

The Commons: Vital, virile, virtual and viral

Buddy Holly's secretly recorded contract negotiation with Decca

Baboomska mcGeesk sez, "In 1956, Buddy Holly traveled to Nashville to record several songs. One of the songs he recorded was "That'll Be The Day", but the producer assigned to his sessions (Owen Bradley) hated rock n' roll, and did a terrible job on the song. After that, Buddy traveled to New Mexico and re-recorded "That'll Be The Day" (the version that became the monster hit) at a different studio with his own (superior) arrangement, but according to his contract with Decca, he couldn't release it, because Decca owned all rights to his music. He decided to call Decca, to try reason with them, and he secretly taped his conversation. They refused to give him the rights to his own song, but he went ahead and violated his contract. Here is the conversation he secretly taped."

Buddy Holly - The Phone Call (Thanks, Baboomska!)

The peculiar challenges of Chinese Braille

chinesebraille.jpg The Braille system, in which the characters of a language are represented via the position of dots in a six-dot cell, is called "the world's first binary encoding scheme" for the characters of a language. Though text-to-speech technology enables many blind people to read via computer, Braille is still considered an integral part of literacy for blind people. Most languages use one cell to represent one language phoneme. All Braille encodings employ the left-to-right evenly spaced cell patterns. Japanese Braille, Korean Braille, and Tibetan Braille (developed in 1992) have reassigned all the Braille blocks to sounds in their own languages. Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese Braille, based on pin-yin, use three characters per syllable: onset, rime and tone. The tone characters are frequently disregarded, creating ambiguity and problems for Chinese Braille students. See also: Chinese-designed super cool Braille embossing printer/labeler, DotlessBraille for info on open source LaTeX and XML to Braille translation software and a terrific Braille FAQ, Moon Code and an early Braille book burning. [photo of performance art exhibit via impact lab]

Danny Choo's call for entries for his Otacool 2 cosplayer convention book


Boing Boing guest blogger alum Danny Choo posted a call for entries for his book about the Otacool Worldwide Cosplayers covention. He's posted a bunch of cosplayers from around the world on his blog. Shown here: Alodia Gosiengfiao from the Philippines as The Baroness from GI Joe.

Kotobukiya is pleased to announce the arrival of OTACOOL 2: WORLDWIDE COSPLAYERS in April 2010! In collaboration with Danny Choo and the Internet's largest cosplay destination Cure, OTACOOL 2 promises even more stimulating and groundbreaking content. In keeping with the same concept of "OTAKU is COOL", the next volume of OTACOOL will focus on cosplayers from around the world!
Otacool Worldwide Cosplayers

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