Amelia Beamer and Mark van Name at SF in SF reading series, Sept 11

San Franciscans: the latest installment of the excellent, free science fiction reading series SF in SF is coming this Saturday, Sept 11, featuring Amelia Beamer and Mark Van Name. Free to attend, highly recommended. Read the rest

Jonathan Coulton, Wil Wheaton comedy interviews at PAX

Here's Yeshmin, a YouTube character whose schtick is somewhere between Yakov Smirnov and Andy Kauffman, wandering the halls of the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX: a nerdgasmic gamer/culture convention run by the Penny Arcade webcomic), chatting with the likes of Wil Wheaton and Jonathan Coulton. Funny stuff!

Yeshmin Goes to PAX (with Wil Wheaton, Jonathan Coulton & Paul and Storm) (Thanks, Greg!) Wil Wheaton vs. Authors' Guild vs. Kindle Wil Wheaton teaches his son to slay dragons Wil Wheaton (and his GTA obsession) profiled in GEEK. Wil Wheaton reads Peter and Max, a Fables novel Wil Wheaton: So, ASCAP to *license* podcasts? Readers respond ... Fall TV Shows/Wil Wheaton TV Geek troubador Jonathan Coulton profiled in NYTs Video for Jonathan Coulton's "Future Soon" -- Gadgets ... Unreleased Jonathan Coulton album on a limited edition USB stick ... Ukulele covers of Jonathan Coulton's "Still Alive" from Portal ... Jonathan Coulton on Writing Portal's End Theme Gadgets Video: Jonathan Coulton at SXSWi Gadgets Free Frontalot/JoCo single: "Diseases of Yore:" Read the rest

Death Star/TIE-fighter ear tattoo

Tattoo artist Jacob Walsh got this fabulous bit of space-battle tattooed on his ear: "I have the severed hand of Luke, still clutching to his lightsaber on my right arm. It needs a bit more work but I'd say it's about 90% completed."

Let's Hear It For This Cool Star Wars Ear Tattoo (via Geekologie) Star Wars/Dalí tattoo No Regrets: LEGO Star Wars "Thugs for Life" tattoo ... Darth Vader Hello Kitty tatt 20 Awesome Robot Tattoos Gadgets Read the rest

Missed Connections personal ads from Dragon*Con attendees

Creative Loafing gathers up the best of this year's Craigslist "Missed Encounters" messages from Dragon*Con in Atlanta, the awesome nerdfest that ran last weekend:
You - WOW blond wizard. Me - ancient wizard. You were pressing awfully hard into me during our photo. Just wondering if there was a lingering interest. Put your robe color in Subject Line of first email...

I can't figure out why I left without getting your contact information. I know your name is Dan, and you make leather jackets. You were the best Wolverine I've ever seen. We talked for a while, just standing in the crowd. I wish I could find a picture of us. Hopefully, I'll see you at another convention soon. :)

I was dressed up as Eddie Riggs and saw you in the Marriott Saturday night. You invited me over and we talked about our costumes with your boyfriend (?). He was dressed as Eddie as well but I was getting the feeling that he didnt want me around. My friend took some pictures of the three of us together and I got a couple of pics of you and your Eddie. I'd like to get the chance to talk with you some more if you're interested. If nothing else I'd like to send you copies of the photos we got. Hope to hear from you soon.

Alien vs Predator Interstellar Swinger Party (Dragon Con - Sheraton). Full Alien or Predator costume required. All single women and couples will be accepted. There will be limited spots for single men.

Read the rest

Atlanta appeals court: It's "nonracial" to call an adult black employee "boy"

A black man who worked for a Tyson chicken plant in Alabama sued his employer for discrimination, after being passed up for promotion in favor of white workers from another plant—and after being referred to regularly and derogatorily as "boy" by his supervisor, as were other black co-workers. An appeals court in Atlanta, GA ruled that calling an adult black man "boy" in this context was "nonracial." Notably, the NYT article skips the euphemisms. Core values, anyone? (via David Carr) Read the rest

Login screens from Penn and Teller BBS, 1987

HappySmurfday has dug up and scanned some printouts of the login screen from Penn and Teller's circa-1987 BBS, Mofo Ex-Machina. They are nerdgasmic and glorious.

Mofo Ex-Machina (Thanks, HappySmurfday, via Submitterator) Penn and Teller make thousands of bees appear out of "nothing ... Penn & Teller's Invisible Thread: lost comedy magic special ... Teller and the neuroscience of magic A tour of magician Teller's house Penn Jillette's video rant show Penn Jillette on artistic satisfaction and magic Long-lost Penn and Teller videogame for download Read the rest

Ukrainian salt mine therapy for asthmatics

From Wired's Raw File, a gallery of a creepy Ukrainian salt mine that has been converted into a convalescent home for recovering asthmatics. It's something called Speleotherapy: breathing in salt-saturated air as a means of soothing respiratory problems: "Kuletski describes the atmosphere among patients as 'calm and relaxed' despite the 'appallingly unsafe conditions. ... The presence of kids wearing safety helmets and cheap plastic sheets to protect them from dripping water from the ceiling makes being there even more surreal,' says Kuletski."

Eerie Ukrainian Salt Mines House Convalescing Asthmatics

(Image: Kirill Kuletski/Wired) Read the rest

Print and fold envelopes lined with Google satellite maps

Here's a service that takes Google maps satellite views and converts them into print-and-fold envelopes you can use for your correspondence, creating a kind of handsome, 21st-century stationery.

MapEnvelope (via Make) Civil War mail art: envelope illustrations from mid-1800s - Boing ... Paper and envelopes that look like icons Peri Peri keychain emulates envelope tear-off strips ... Read the rest

Steampunk horror-show walk-through

Here's a first-person walk-through of "Machine," a steampunk horror show built by hobbyists in their garage. It's jaw-dropping awesomesauceular -- "real horrorshow," as Little Alex might say.

Homemade steampunk walkthrough: Fangoria 2010 (Thanks, George!) Read the rest

Physics lecturer demonstrating by unicycling across class with juggling student on shoulders

Here's University of Auckland engineering lecturer, Peter Bier riding a unicycle across his classroom with a juggling student on his shoulders, memorably demonstrating some key principles of physics.

University lecturer on unicycle with student on his shoulders - juggling!!! (Thanks, Tim!) Blind juggling robot High-speed Dance Dance Revolution kid juggling three pins Juggling monkey makes ape out of AACS The Self-Balancing Unicycle Gadgets Fast food table with unicycle wheels Steampunk Segway: the Legway Read the rest

XKCD cake

Pink Cake Box made this custom XKCD wedding cake for one of their customers in New Jersey: "The top of the cake includes cutouts of the comic characters with a red heart on a wire between them. The entire cake is covered in white fondant with black thin bands at the base of each tier. Equations inspired by this comic decorate the remaining tiers."

xkcd Comic Wedding Cake (via Super Punch) Bakers make cake with image of flash drive instead of image in ... Resignation letter on cake Katamari Damacy cake kicks ass HOWTO bake a no-mess chocolate cake in five minutes Cthulhu cake! Funny cake decorating flub AT-AT wedding cake Read the rest

Gibson's ZERO HISTORY: exciting adventure that wakes you to the present-day's futurism

William Gibson's latest novel, Zero History, is his best yet, a triumph of science fiction as social criticism and adventure. Continuing on from 2007's Spook Country, Zero History features a reformed, dried out version of Milgrim, the junkie anti-hero from Spook Country. He's been rehabilitated at the expense of Hubertus Bigend, the shadowy power-broker whom we first met in Pattern Recognition. Bigend has got Milgrim hunting for the designer behind a mysterious line of fetish-denim, in the hopes of remaking it as the basis for a lucrative US military contract; this being Bigend's idea of novelty-seeking good times.

Joining Milgrim is Hollis Henry, the former pop star from Spook Country, still reluctantly in Bigend's employ, but even more conflicted, and missing her ex-boyfriend, a thrill-seeking nutjob whose idea of a good time in jumping off tall buildings in a glidersuit. Milgrim -- and later, Hollis -- track the secret denim from South Carolina to London to Paris and back to London again, and very quickly find themselves embroiled in an intrigue involving US spooks, experimental UAVs, rogue infosec specialists, and a palace coup at Blue Ant, Bigend's legendary design and branding firm.

What makes Zero History into Gibson's best so far is how absolutely perfectly he captures the futuristic nature of the present day. Milgrim -- a junkie dried out after a ten year fugue of living rough and stealing to buy pills -- is well-suited to this task, emerging as if from a time-machine into the 21st century in full swing, able to narrate its essential strangeness without seeming contrived. Read the rest

Eight-foot shark caught in Potomac River

Fisherman Wily Dean was trying to catch cow-nosed rays in Southern Maryland's Potomac River for a marine biologist this week, but he ended up netting an 8-foot-long bull shark. Unfortunately, the story doesn't have a happy ending for the shark. From NBC Washington:
"We had an interesting morning bringing it in," Dean said. "It was quite a fight."

Once the shark was captured, the next question was: What the heck do you do with it?

"I am probably going to have it mounted, maybe the head," Dean said. "Right now, the shark's in the freezer."

"8-Foot Shark Caught in Potomac River" Read the rest

Hugo Awards 2010: some of the best results in recent memory

Last night, the Hugo Awards, one of science fiction's most prestigious prizes, were presented in Melbourne at Aussiecon 4. The Hugo ceremony is one of my favorite parts of any WorldCon, and last night's event, emceed by Garth Nix, was a particularly outstanding edition. The ballot was extremely strong, with works that I really enjoyed competing in several categories. The voter and nominator turnout were both much higher than usual, and the program moved at a very, very good clip. This year's award, designed by Nick Stathopolous, was gorgeous, incorporating aboriginal motifs and an organic, Belle Époque look inspired by the Paris Metro signs. Kudos to the administrators on a smooth, well-run ceremony!

The fiction prizes were especially sweet this year. Best novel was an almost-unheard-of tie between China Mieville for his brilliant, mind-bending The City and the City and Paolo Bacigalupe for his stellar debut novel The Windup Girl. Best novella went to my collaborator Charlie Stross for Palimpsest, from his wonderful, mind-bending solo short story collection Wireless. Best novelette went to Peter Watts for The Island, from The New Space Opera 2. Boing Boing readers will remember Peter as the SF writer who was beaten and gassed near the US/Canada border when he got out of his car to ask why US customs officers were searching his car; he spent tens of thousands of dollars fighting the charge and the potential two-year sentence; was found guilty but received a suspended sentence. SF fans raised money to bring Peter to Australia, and his acceptance speech in which he called this the "best and worst year of his life," was brilliant. Read the rest

Historic artifact for a holiday weekend

This is the world's first frozen margarita machine, invented and built by Mariano Martinez in 1971 from parts of a soft-serve ice cream maker. His inspiration: A 7-11 Slurpee.

Today, it resides in the collection of the National Museum of American History, where a museum director once called it a, "classic example of the American entrepreneurial spirit."

Smithsonian: Top 10 Inventions from the Collections of the National Museum of American History Read the rest

A glut of acorns, or a bad case of The Plague?

What would you make of medieval historical records that prominently note the occurrence of large crops of acorns? It's a bit of a weird departure from the kinds of things these records normally care about, i.e. battles and the deaths of famous people. In fact, the people keeping these records didn't even eat acorns, and other, more useful, crops aren't mentioned at all.

But, sometimes, an acorn might be more than just an acorn, according to a 2003 paper by classicist David Woods. That's because the Latin word for "little nut" and the word sometimes used to describe the swollen lymph nodes caused by the Capital-P Plague are one and the same.

The Latin term glandularius is the root of our word for gland; etymologically, glandula means 'little nuts' because this is what they felt like when palpated. There is at least one other example of a plague record using glandulara as a descriptor. In c. 660 the Burgundian 'Chronicle of Fredegar' describes the 599 plague of Marseilles as a cladis glanduaria.

So "a spark of leprosy and an unheard of abundance of nuts", becomes the far more logical, "we've had some issues with leprosy and The Plague this year".

Contagions: Plague among the nuts

Image via Wikipedia user Twid, under CC

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Just look at this awesome banana skateboard.

Just look at it.

Hack Job/Brian Tellock (via Neatorama) Previously: Just look at this awesome banana Viking helmet. Boing Boing Just look at this awesome slow-moving performance artist whose face has been covered with exploding bananas. Boing Boing Just look at this awesome EU banana curvature regulation. Boing Boing Just look at this awesome anti-banana-ripening bag. Boing Boing Just look at this awesome Korean banana-ripening facility. Boing Boing Just look at this awesome banana peeler. Boing Boing Just look at this awesome banana peeling simulator. Boing Boing Just look at this awesome banana slicer. Boing Boing Just look at this awesome banana saver clip. Boing Boing Just look at this awesome banana bunker. Boing Boing HOWTO disassemble a banana - Boing Boing Robber uses banana as "gun" - Boing Boing Hemant "The Friendly Atheist" Mehta Interviews Ray "The Banana Man ... Peeling bananas from the other end is easier - Boing Boing Forlorn bananas of London - Boing Boing 11 students suspended for banana prank - Boing Boing Read the rest

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