Ian McDonald's "Luna: New Moon" - the moon is a much, much harsher mistress

We've projected our political and spiritual longings on the Moon since antiquity, and it's been a talismanic home to science fiction's most ambitious dreams for generations. But no one writes like Ian McDonald, and no one's Moon is nearly so beautiful and terrible as Luna: New Moon.

Hieroglyphic illustrations featuring your favorite superheroes


Josh Ln's Heroglyphics are a series of illustrations of superheroes and movie characters posters (TMNT, Star Wars, Power Rangers, X-Men, Avengers and Spider-Man) available as posters, canvas prints, wall tapestries, etc. Read the rest

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King of the Kustomizers is an enjoyable feast of George Barris' hot rods, customized cars and other kooky creations


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

I was initially reluctant to order this book unseen, given the high list price, but once I had it in my hands I was completely won over. This profile of George Barris is a highly enjoyable feast for any fan of cars, movies, TV shows, pop music and culture. Clearly a labor of love, this hefty, nearly-500 page book was written by George Barris’ son Brett.

The embossed and shiny spot-varnished cover perfectly embodies the King of Kustomizers and his creations: bold, glitzy and over-the-top. The hundreds of color and black and white photos inside lovingly show Barris’ astounding automotive output, which includes early hot rods, dragsters, customized cars for the stars, TV and movie vehicles, corporate promotional cars, wild buggies for musical groups, and more. The list of his clients is a who’s who of mid-century Hollywood: The Beach Boys, Elvira, Sonny and Cher, The Boogaloos, The Munsters, Beverly Hillbillies, Farah Fawcett, Bob Hope, Elton John – far too many to list them all. The Batmobile on the cover may be his most famous car, but the scope of the book will amaze you. And not just Hollywood: if you were a company like Lipton, Vox amplifiers, ToysRUs, Coppertone, or Big Boy and needed a custom car to promote your brand, George Barris’ shop Kustom City was the place to go for that head-turning vehicle that literally embodied your product. You get page after page of kooky kustom cars!

It’s no surprise that Barris was as brilliant a businessman as he was a car customizer. Read the rest

Artificial Intelligence, considered: Talking with John Markoff about Machines of Loving Grace


Literary podcaster Rick Kleffer writes, "I must admit that it was too much fun to sit down with John Markoff and talk (MP3) about his book Machines of Loving Grace. Long ago, I booted up a creaking, mothballed version of one of the first Xerox minicomputers equipped with a mouse to extract legacy software for E-mu. Fifteen years later I was at the first Singularity Summit; the book was a trip down many revisions of memory road."

John Markoff’s ‘Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robot’ is a fascinating, character-driven vision of how the recent past created the present and is shaping the near future. The strong and easily understood conflict at the heart of this work gives readers an easy means of grasping the increasingly complicated reality around us. If we do not understand this history, the chances are that we will not have the opportunity to be doomed to repeat it.

Our technological ecology began in two computer labs in Stanford in the early sixties. In one lab, John McCarthy coined the term “Artificial intelligence” with the intention of creating a robot that could think like, move like and replace a human in ten years. On the opposite side of the campus, Douglas Englebart wanted to make it easier for scholars to collaborate using an increasingly vast amount of information. He called it IA, Intelligence Augmentation as a direct response to AI. Thus were born two very different design philosophies that still drive the shape of our technology today – and will continue to do so in the future.

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Carabiners with built-in USB cables

The Nomadclip draws tons of praise from its users; Nomad also make lots of little charge-cable gizmos like straps that open into cables and cable/keychains. Our house is like Game of Thrones for working USB cables as we steal one another's precious wires. (via Canopy) Read the rest

Dust and Grooves: fantastic photo book about vinyl record collectors


“Contrary to what conventional wisdom would have you believe…record collecting isn’t about music. Not entirely, anyway,” says music writer Jeff “Chairman” Mao in Dust & Grooves. Rather, it’s about the passion of collecting, and that’s what this captivating book is about.

Photographer Eilon Paz spent six years traveling to forty cities in twelve countries to meet the world’s most enthusiastic vinyl collectors. The result is the seductive book, Dust & Grooves, originally published as a Kickstarter project but released today in this newer edition by Ten Speed Press. The book is split into two hefty sections. The first half is the “coffee table” section of glossy, sumptuous images of collectors with their records. The second half is the magazine-style section of interviews on wonderfully textured matte pages. In both sections Paz plops us into the rooms of these collectors, giving us a voyeuristic glimpse into their vinyl-obsessed lives. What we take away is that every collection is unique and is a reflection of its avid collector’s personal story. This book isn’t for music lovers as much as it is for anyone interested in seeing what makes a passionate collector – of any kind – tick.

Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting by Eilon Paz Ten Speed Press 2015, 428 pages, 9.8 x 12.2 x 1.4 inches $34 Buy one on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink. Read the rest

Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future

Economist Paul Mason's blockbuster manifesto Postcapitalism suggests that markets just can't organize products whose major input isn't labor or material, but information, and that means that, for the first time in history, it's conceivable that we can have a society based on abundance.
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Step Aside, Pops: a new Hark! A Vagrant! collection that delights and dazzles

Canadian historian turned webcomics god Kate Beaton is back with her second Hark! A Vagrant! collection: Step Aside, Pops. Never before has history been so bitterly funny.

Read Ben Hatke's original Adventures of Little Robot

Gina from First Second writes, "Cory reviewed Ben Hatke's wonderful graphic novel LITTLE ROBOT last week -- this week, tor.com celebrates it by reprinting Ben's charming robot comic strip that inspired the book!" Read the rest

Harry Potter sets skinned in Hogwarts House livery

Juniper takres the Scholastic editions and wraps them with gilded Gryffindon, Hufflepuff, Slytherin or Ravenclaw jackets. Read the rest

OXO's Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker

The $50 cold-brew maker makes some important design improvements over its pioneering competitor, the Toddy, but you get the same quality coffee with easier cleanup for $10 with my nut-milk bag method. Read the rest

Steampunk power-plant ring

Thinkgeek's new $30 Hi-Voltage Toric Generator Ring is a copper-plated pewter fancy that looks a tiny power-plant on your finger. Read the rest

Millennium Falcon quadcopter

Skinning drones with iconic spaceship shells is an absolute natural and I expect to see a lot more of it -- here's a salvo, Air Hogs's Millennium Falcon quadcopter, which hits stores on Sept 15 -- part of a family that includes landspeeders, TIE fighters, X-wings, and speeder bikes. Read the rest

Finding the perfect tea strainer and mug


My wife is a tea drinker, and I've been drinking more tea than coffee lately. Carla likes the compressed pu'erh bricks from Numi and I like loose leaf golden monkey. We have a few different strainers/mugs, but we finally found the one that works for us: the Bodum Yo-Yo Set Mug and Tea Strainer ($16 on Amazon). The mug is double-walled and holds a perfect 12-ounces. It also has a handle, which is important because we have some of the Bodum double wall glasses without a handle and they get almost too hot to hold. The strainer is made from nylon and the used tea leaves rinse out of the mesh very easily. It also has a lid that doubles as a coaster. There might be a better strainer/mug set out there, but I haven't found it. Read the rest

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's Liberty Annual, 2015 edition

The indispensable Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has announced the 2015 edition of its always-brilliant Liberty Annual ("ridiculous adult humor for adults"), featuring an all-star comix cast from Art Spiegelman to Vanesa Del Rey. Read the rest

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