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Kickstarting an Arduino-based Enigma machine

ST Geotronics have exanded their Instructables project for building your own Arduino-based Enigma and turned it into a Kickstarter. $40 gets you some boards you can kit-bash with; $125 gets you the full kit; $300 gets you the whole thing, beautifully made and fully assembled.

The Open Enigma Project (Thanks, Tina!)

On the 25th anniversary of the magnificent, enduring novel "Geek Love"


Caitlin Roper's 25th anniversary appreciation of Katherine Dunn's magnificent novel Geek Love manages the improbable trick of doing the book justice. Geek Love is a one-of-a-kind wonder of a novel, unique in voice, subject matter and emotional affect. Nothing I've ever read or done has made me feel the way Geek Love makes me feel every time I re-read it (it's a book I've loved since my teens). The feeling isn't entirely pleasant, but it's an important feeling, and one I need to get in touch with every couple of years.

Roper's piece features a rundown of all the amazing things that Geek Love has inspired in its quarter century, from the Jim Rose Sideshow Circus to mountains of weird and amazing fan-art. It also gives a glimpse of Dunn herself and the events that led her to write her wonderful masterpiece. I bought my wife a copy of Geek Love when we started courting. I couldn't imagine spending my life with someone who hadn't read it.

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Tauntaun hoodie with guts lining

Thinkgeek's Tauntaun Costume Hoodie not only has horns and ears, but its lining includes line-art innards and gore, to really bring home the feeling of climbing inside your trusty steed's guts to be shielded from the elements.

Tauntaun Costume Hoodie (via The Disney Blog)

MC Chris's "Foreverrr" - porny, Ghostbusters-y nerdcore

MC Chris, creator of such immortal nerdcore classics as Fett's Vette and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, has a new double album out: Foreverrr.

Foreverrr is an insane, lewd, lacivious, profane and obscene delight of a concept album about the romance between a lonely ghost and a grandmotherly sexbot who's taken up residence in a haunted house. It features songs about all five Ghostbusters (including Tully), as well as nods to Wednesday Addams and The Shining (it's also got a ton of silliness about Luigi, french fries, and dating woes).

Ultimately, though, as the liner notes say, "it's also about letting go of the past, letting go of your anger, letting go of people you love." Amid all the supernatural sex-jokes and fat beats, MC Chris slides a lot of poignant, autobiographical material about coming to grips with his alcoholic father, and learning how to cope with his anger rather than taking it out on hecklers at his shows.

One of the Ghostbusters tracks, 58.9, was released early as a memorial to Harold Ramis, and a fan made a rather good video for it.

The album ships on Tuesday: $25 gets you two CDs in sleeves; $45 gets you a tri-fold CD case and a t-shirt; and $65 gets you the tri-fold case, a hoodie, stickers, a poster, a tote and a button.

"Foreverrr" - MC Chris

The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance and Other Real Laws


Kevin Underhill, the very funny lawyer behind Lowering the Bar, a very funny law-blog, has published a book of weird laws through the ages, called The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance and Other Real Laws That Human Beings Have Actually Dreamed Up, Enacted, and Sometimes Even Enforced. It's a genuinely funny and extremely weird tour through the world's dumbest rules, starting with the Babylonians (who had a trial-by-ordeal through which you could prove you weren't guilty by jumping into the river and not drowning) up through the Hittites (who had a whole set of rules about whether it was OK to steal your neighbor's door); the ancient Greeks and Romans (who were allowed to go into their friends' houses to search for their stolen property, provided they did so in nothing but a loincloth, to ensure they didn't plant any goods while searching) and modern times, including the notorious "Pi=3.2" state law.

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Guest review: my daughter reviews Ariol

I love reading with my daughter, Poesy, who has just turned six. We agree on almost all of her favorites, and re-reading them is one of our best-loved activities, and how we pass the time on boring bus-rides and so forth. However, there are a few books that Poesy loves, but which leave me cold. First among these is are the Ariol books, a long-running French kids' comic series that are being swiftly translated into English by Papercutz (there are three books out so far, and a fourth is due in May). Ariol was co-created by the amazing and talented Emmanuel Guibert, whose other work includes the anarcho-gonzo Sardine kids' comics; the brilliant WWII memoir Alan's War, and the extraordinary memoir of doctors in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, The Photographer.

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Deadpool pencil-jar

The Deadpool pencil cup is a delightfully silly and gross bit of office-candy, in which the wisecracking, unkillable merc from the pages of Marvel comics is presented for your gleeful brain-skewering pleasure. It comes with shuriken-shaped erasers and an arrow-cap for your favorite writing implement.

If you're new to Deadpool, try Deadpool Dead Presidents, the reboot of the comic from Walking Dead co-creator Tony Moore. Gentle Giant Studios Deadpool: Pencil Cup Accessory

(via Geekymerch)

Weinberger's "Too Big to Know" in paperback

David Weinberger's 2012 book Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room was one of the smartest, most thought-provoking reads I had the pleasure of being buffeted by in 2012. I'm delighted to learn that it's out in paperback this month. Here's my original review from 2012:

David Weinberger is one of the Internet's clearest and cleverest thinkers, an understated and deceptively calm philosopher who builds his arguments like a bricklayer builds a wall, one fact at a time. In books like Everything is Miscellaneous and Small Pieces, Loosely Joined, he erects solid edifices with no gaps between the bricks, inviting conclusions that are often difficult to reconcile with your pre-existing prejudices, but which are even harder to deny.

Too Big to Know, Weinberger's latest book-length argument, is another of these surprising brick walls. Weinberger presents us with a long, fascinating account of how knowledge itself changes in the age of the Internet -- what it means to know something when there are millions and billions of "things" at your fingertips, when everyone who might disagree with you can find and rebut your assertions, and when the ability to be heard isn't tightly bound to your credentials or public reputation for expertise.

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Nerf Rebelle: girl-marketed action toys that are cool and work well


Nerf's Rebelle Heartbreaker Bow (part of the wider Rebelle line of action toys marketed to girls) gets pretty high marks from its owners, and promises a dart-range of 75 feet. I confess that I'm conflicted about this -- there's nothing inherently masculine or feminine about Nerf toys, their gendering is already a synthetic creation of the company's marketing strategy.

That said, there are unquestionably girls who feel like action toys are not for them because of normative gender pressure (to which Nerf is a contributor, of course), and the existence of toys that are intended to allow them the space for imaginative play without worrying about appropriate gender norms is a good thing. Especially since the Rebelle toys are not just "girly" -- they're also cool, as well-built and well-designed as the "boy" versions, the perfect imaginative accessory for your little Hunger Games fan.

Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker Bow (via Super Punch)

Text of Little Brother on an art-litho, tee, or tote


As you may have noticed, I think Litographs are really cool: the company turns the text of various books into a piece of appropriately themed text-art and makes lithographs, tees and tote-bags out of it.

Now, I'm delighted to announce that the company has produced a line of Litographs based on my novel Little Brother, with a gorgeous anti-surveillance design by Benjy Brooke.

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Math and science cutting boards


Elysium Woodworks's Etsy store is full of gorgeous, laser-etched, math- and science-themed cutting boards. They're about $35, made from bamboo, and take 5-6 weeks to fabricate.

Elysium Woodworks (via Wil Wheaton)

Squid ring


Joshua sez, "I've been nagging my wife (a jeweler; you posted her sci-fi wedding rings a few years ago) to make a squid ring for years. She finally did it. Sort of art nouveau meets Jules Verne. It's hand carved from wax and cast into 18k gold. The prototype is mine, but the design's also on Etsy."

squid ring (Thanks, Joshua!)

Great 8-bit gamer tees


8-Bitty does some extremely great pixel-art tees inspired by classic video-games. I like the two-sided, full-shirt screens the best, like the mummy wrappings and the skeleton (this one reminds me of the classic Skeletees and makes me wish it was as detailed as Leslie Arwin's original).

8-Bitty (Thanks, Luke!)

Fine metalworking: tiny knives and batlike brooches from Mario Cesari


I ran into Mario Cesari at a market in Florence, Italy today (I'm in town to speak at the Museums and the Web conference). He's a metalworker who produces beautiful pieces that are really to my taste (I bought a weird, bat-like brooch from him). There was a lot more I was tempted by, especially the little, finger-length machete pen-knives. He's got an Etsy storefront with a good selection of his work. Having handled it and bought some of it, I can affirm that the workmanship and aesthetics of these things are beyond reproach.

Kickstarting an adult coloring book: 99 Ways to Die

Chris Locke writes, "Why should kids have all the fun? '99 Ways To Die: a Coloring Book for ADULTS' is for mature audiences who love to color, but are tired of childish subject matter. Every page shows a different way to die. Full size version of the book is $25, pocket-size version is $15."

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