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Petri dish Christmas ornaments

Is it too early to talk about how much I like these? I hope not.

Please note these are not actual bacteria, but watercolor paintings sealed in resin inside real petri dishes.

Check out the full collection at Etsy

Halloween greetings from Antarctica

Henry Kaiser is kind of our man on the inside in Antarctica. He works there every year as a film maker, turning science into movies. He sent this awesome Halloween greeting from underneath the sea ice.

Bonus: He also sent us a video taken at the same spot — only this has 100% fewer wacky masks and 100% more sea anemones.

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Ted Nugent Halloween costume, 1977

Now that's scary. Trigger warning, indeed, if you get my drift. Nov. 3, 1977 Rolling Stone, shared on Flickr by jbcurio.

Low-poly mask, a papercraft mask for Halloween

"kongrorilla" created this nifty design for a Low-Poly Mask for Halloween 2012. Download it from Thingiverse and make your own.

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Celebrate Cephalopod Awareness Days!

http://youtu.be/__XA6B41SQQ

October 8-12 are Cephalopod Awareness Days. I was just made aware of that fact. Yeah, awareness!

Today, specifically, is Squid/Cuttlefish Day, dedicated to honoring the tentacled members of the cephalopod family.

To celebrate this auspicious occasion, here is a video about cuttlefish and their amazing color-changing skills. Other members of the cephalopod family can also change color, but cuttlefish are famous for their ability to produce moving patterns on their own skin.

Please, no jokes about "the cuttle bone". It's too obvious.

More information on Cephalopod Awareness Days

Thanks, Doug!

Exploration Day > Columbus Day

First celebrated nationally in 1937, Columbus Day pays homage to Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas. It is, needless to say, viewed very differently by different groups of Americans. Some people forget it's a holiday at all. Some Italian Americans see it as a point of cultural pride. Other people — especially Native Americans — point out that Columbus personally oversaw the murder and enslavement of thousands and see the holiday as an intrinsically cruel celebration of the beginning of a massive genocide and generations of oppression.

For some reason, we've been unable to deal with problem of Columbus Day, but now some folks on the Internet have a solution that actually makes a hell of a lot of sense: Replace Columbus Day with Exploration Day.

The logic is quite neat. Columbus Day is about one guy and the (actually untrue) claim that he was the first person to discover America. Inherently, that's pretty Euro-centric, which is a big part of why it sits awkwardly in a pluralistic country. But exploration is inclusive. The ancestors of Native Hawaiians were explorers who crossed the ocean. The ancestors of Native Americans explored their way across the Bering land bridge and then explored two whole continents. If you look at the history of America, you can see a history of exploration done by many different people, from many different backgrounds. Sometimes we're talking about literal, physical exploration. Other times, the exploring is done in a lab. Or in space. But the point is clear: This country was built on explorers. And it needs explorers for the future.

Exploration Day would allow us to honor the importance of exploration — and the pride we take in being explorers — without marginalizing some Americans and without perpetuating damaging myths about our own history. Bonus: Exploration Day could double as a holiday for science. Looks like a win to me.

Read more about the idea at ExplorationDayUSA.org

Sign the WhiteHouse.gov petition asking to rededicated Columbus Day as Exploration Day.

Happy Women Reading Comics in Public Day!

When I was about 10, I developed an obsessive love for The X-Men. It started with the Saturday morning cartoon show, but quickly became about comic books, as well. To this day, long-overwritten plot points from the Marvel universe take up a significant portion of my memory space (as my husband can attest). In my marriage, I am the one who is called upon to flesh out the backstory and conflicts with source material after my husband and I have seen an action-hero movie.

But I didn't own a single comic book until I was 19.

In fact, I'm not sure my parents or friends even knew I liked comic books. All my reading, for nine years, was done in secret. I'd slip into the comic book aisle at the bookstore when nobody was around to see, grab an anthology off the shelf, and spend the next two hours nestled in a corner somewhere — with the comics safely hidden behind a magazine or large book. I did the same thing at the public library. Never even checked one out. If I couldn't finish a library comic anthology in one afternoon, I'd hide it in a seldom-used section and come back the next day. (My apologies to the librarians of the world for that.)

Partly, that shame and fear came was about being labeled a nerd, in general. But there was, for me, also a pretty heavy gender component. Tall, clumsy, nerdy, ignorant of fashion or makeup, and definitely not "attractive" in the way that sheltered pre-teen and teenage society defines it, I spent a good chunk of my adolescence paranoid about my identity as a female. Where and when I grew up, there weren't a lot of good role models for diversity of female experience. My parents always supported who I was, but society and my peers seemed to have a pretty strict definition of who girls were and what they liked ... and I didn't fit. Admitting that I was into comics felt like it would be just one more thing I did wrong. That's why I really, really love Women Reading Comics in Public Day, an unofficial holiday started by the bloggers at DC Women Kicking Ass.

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Happy Sysadmin Day!

A very happy Sysadmin Day to Boing Boing's own Ken Snider (@orenwolf on Twitter), and to all the others who toil in the server room coal mines. Without them, you would not be reading this blog post.

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An annual shooting spree in North Carolina

In certain parts of the United States (including Birmingham, Alabama) shooting guns into the air is one way that some locals celebrate major holidays, like the 4th of July.

For those of us who didn't grow up with celebratory gunfire, this cultural practice can be difficult to understand—especially given the fact that it is dangerous. Bullets that go up come back down, and they can injure and kill people. It's unclear exactly how risky the practice is. If you're hit by a falling bullet, your chances of death are significantly higher compared to a normal gunshot wound. And a study of celebratory gunfire injuries in Los Angeles turned up 118 victims, including 38 deaths, between 1985 and 1992. But I wasn't able to find a good analysis that put deaths into perspective with shots fired. (So, for instance, for every x shots fired into the air, x number of people are injured. Without that, it's hard to tell whether celebratory gunfire is really, really dangerous or only kind of dangerous sometimes. But either way, when you do it, especially in urban areas, you're taking a risk of killing someone.)

Usually, though, when we talk about celebratory gunfire, we're talking about unorganized huzzahs fired off with impromptu vigor in backyards and at family gatherings. In Cherryville, North Carolina, however, the whole thing is a lot more official ... and safer. Starting at midnight on New Year's Eve, the Cherryville New Year's Shooters go door to door throughout a three-county area singing traditional New Year's shooting songs, and calling residents out to shoot with them. It's a lot like going caroling, but with weaponry. Thankfully, it's all done with blanks these days.

For more than 18 hours, and through three different counties — Gaston, Lincoln, and Cleveland — the shooters follow the route bringing ceremony and good tidings to neighbors. At each stop along the way, a crier recites the “Chant of the New Year’s Shooters,” and then participants fire their muskets, one by one, each loaded with black powder, no bullets allowed. The noise of the musket is thought to drown out evil spirits and bad luck; while the chant — part poem, part speech, and part song — asks for peace and prosperity in the New Year.

Joyce Green sent this story in to me. While she was raised in one of these communities—Shelby, North Carolina—she would like you to know that, "I never wake up on New Year’s day and think, 'I’d better get on down to the nursing home and fire off a couple of shots to bring in the New Year right.'"

Read more about the Cherryville New Year's Shooters

Read more about the dangers of celebratory gunfire that involves real bullets.

Image: Black Powder Shot, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from theknowlesgallery's photostream

More than 1000 shots fired in happiness in Birmingham, AL

One of the things I loved about the two years I lived in Birmingham, AL: Being in a place where people openly and un-ironically fired guns into the air in order to celebrate things. This was something new to me, despite being raised a good country family with high levels of gun ownership. But that was in Kansas. Viva la difference, southern US! For instance, on the 4th of July, 2012, the Birmingham police recorded 1,098 incidents of gunfire (they have a detection system that's able to distinguish between gunshots and fireworks). In 2011, there were only 75 gunshots recorded. In 2010, 495. Which leads me to wonder: Is this random, or is there some factor leading to an increase in celebratory gunfire over the last three years? What social and economic factors affect the number of bullets people are willing to pump into the air?(Via Stan Diel)

Where the colors of fireworks come from

The Works is a kids science and tech museum in Bloomington, Minnesota, just a few miles from where I live in Minneapolis. Today, they had this cool chart up on their Facebook page, explaining which chemicals produce the colors you see in fireworks. How cool is that? Tomorrow, when the rockets glare red, you'll know that's actually strontium carbonate.

More about The Works

Thanks, Nicole Wieler!

Father's day songs to learn and perform, by Groucho Marx

Here are a pair of Groucho Marx classics for you to rehearse and perform for your pater familias tomorrow: "Everybody Works But Father" (MP3) and Father's Day (MP3) -- both ganked from Old Time Radio's upload of An Evening With Groucho on The Internet Archive.

New Yorkers: Spend Memorial Day with Maggie and Dean!

Neither I nor Dean Putney—BoingBoing's intrepid web developer—live in New York City. But we realized recently that we're both going to be visiting at the same time. So we're planning on meeting up for a little, informal Memorial Day picnic in Prospect Park, and we'd like you to join us. We'll be meeting up on Monday, May 28th, at 3:00 pm in front of the Brooklyn Museum. Bring whatever you want to eat and, if you so choose, a nifty object or DIY project for show-and-tell. Hope to see you there!

Mother's Day ad: support the energy industry and we'll give you flying cars!


Another Vintage Ads gem for Mother's Day: this bit of corporate futurism from the energy sector.

Mother's Day

Giant chocolate Cthulhu idol


Jason sez, "A follow up to last years insanely popular Chocolate Cthulhu Idol comes the Giant Chocolate Cthulhu Idol. Standing 7.5 inches tall and weighing a sanity shattering 2 lbs, this solid green chocolate treat is a must have for the devoted cultist." (Thanks, Jason!)

A greeting card for Valentine's Day

If that special person in your life has the right sense of humor, this card, designed by dandee and for sale on Etsy, may be just the thing to make them feel all smooshy inside without playing in too heavily to the Valentine's Day prisoner's dilemma game.

Luckily for Christopher Baker, who showed me this card, I do have the right sense of humor. Happy early Valentine's, babe.

HOWTO make duct-tape roses

Here's DIYHacksandHowTos's great Instructables for making duct tape roses. The method is simple and produces a really beautiful (and romantically geeky) end-product.

Realistic Duct Tape Rose (via Craft)

Unpacking the invisible knapsack

Seven years ago, I read an article that completely changed the way I thought about what racism is, and the privileges I experience as an upper-middle class white person. In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I'd like to share that article here.

I didn't know it at the time, but Peggy McIntosh's Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack is kind of a classic of anti-racist thought. The basic idea goes something like this: Racism does not begin and end with Jim Crow and the Klan. It's not just about obvious exclusion and oppression. Fighting racism isn't just about overturning blatantly discriminatory laws or cracking down on hate crimes. Racism, unfortunately, can be a lot more subtle than that.

Racism is also about whole social systems that confer privileges on some people, and deny those privileges to others. What's more, if you're one of the privileged people, the privileges you receive—simply for looking the way you do—are often completely invisible to you. So invisible, in fact, that you don't even think of those things as privileges, and you don't notice how they've made your life easier and better. So, when people who don't have access to those privileges don't live as easily and well as you, it's easy to blame that on some inherent moral or intellectual failing, rather than on the system that denied them privileges you've received since birth.

In the United States, there are many privileges that I get, simply for being white, that are denied to people with different skin tones. That's racism. And this system leads otherwise kind and decent people to act and think in racist ways, without even realizing that's what they're doing. Acknowledging this privilege—realizing that subtle racism exists and that you benefit from it—is the first step privileged people need to take if they want to be effective allies of the un-privileged. Here's what McIntosh says:

I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks. ... As far as I can see, my African American co-workers, friends and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place and line of work cannot count on most of these conditions:

• I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
• I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
• When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
• Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of my financial reliability.
• I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
• I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.

There is more where that came from, just read the whole piece. And yes, this idea does apply to other problems besides just racism. And yes, people who are privileged in some respects can be un-privileged in others, and vice versa. But acknowledging where you are privileged is important. Whether you're fighting racism, classicism, sexism, or any -ism.

Kid's patch-panel maker Christmas present

Erik sez, "Here's a Christmas toy I made for my toddler son. It is a custom patch panel, wiring, and button pushing toy created in the 'maker' tradition! I am a broadcast engineer and recently noticed that my two-and-a-half year old son was fascinated when I was moving cables around behind the family stereo. He wanted to help out so I let him for little bit. It was so much fun to watch him play that I was inspired to create a toy that is a custom patch bay and activity panel. The robot even talks! When he gets a little older I'll probably add a micro-controller for more advanced interactivity."

Maker Christmas Toy (Thanks, Erik!)

Cookie recipes for Christmas or any day

This year, as a Christmas gift to my family, I scanned the pages from my Grammy’s recipe folio and turned them into a spiral-bound cookbook with the help of Lulu.com.

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Oh dreydl dreydl dreydl, I printed you with a wire-extruding Makerbot! And when the patents expire, I'll print you again with powder deposition technology!


In the event that you found a 3D printer under the Hannukah bush this year, here's a shapefile for a 3D printable dreydl to run off to your heart's content, courtesy of Zydac.

As it gets to the candle-lighting hour here on the East Coast, it really feels like (C)Hanu(k)kah 2k11 is going to be a good one. And what’s the number one accessory for the festival of lights?

OK, well, yes, candles. But the number two accessory is definitely the dreidel! And thanks to the prolific Zydac, Thingiverse has a lovely example to help share out the gelt.

Well done, Thingiverse! Now what about some printable latkes?

Happy Hanukkah: Dreidel by Zydac « MakerBot Industries

How To: Wrap a baby in swaddling clothes

There is no excuse for crappy nativity scenes. I can't help you with building the manger, though. Ask Mark.

Video Link

Nerdy gingerbread roundup

The Mary Sue's roundup of nerdy seasonal gingerbread is not to be missed, with a gingerbread Tardis, Weasley house, weighted companion cubes, and Starship Enterprise. Shown here, Mezcraft's stonking Weasley House (which includes edible Molly Weasley jumpers!).

Gingerbread We Saw Today

Gingerbread typewriter is entirely edible


Patti from Baked Ideas made this amazing edible gingerbread typewriter for benefit of City Harvest, and it is displayed at NYC's Parker Meridien Hotel.

So…. typewriter came to mind… a sort of gingerbread house for the letters that live inside!! Christmas unplugged, a letter to santa, granny’s laptop …… it was fun to think about.

First we made a model of the typewriter in cardboard, and then baked all the parts and crafted the roller, paper and metal keys out of sugar paste. The “glue” is royal icing, and cookies, stacked up, are the inner supports. The keyboard letters are cookies, iced in ivory and trimmed in silver. The iced gingerbread alphabet letters are frolicking in the sugar snow, sometimes spelling out words (fun, skip, eat, joy.)

I am glad we chose to make a typewriter. It is an image that is a reminder of a simpler time … wintery, happy and unexpected. I hope both kids and adults enjoy looking at it.

It’s 100% edible, down to the rice paper ribbon.

Gingerbread Typewriter (via Neatorama)

HOWTO make a terrarium inside a Christmas ornament


This fairly straightforward HOWTO teaches you to build a tiny terrarium inside a clear glass Christmas tree bauble.

If you love terrariums as much as we do, why not trim your holiday tree with a some of them? With just a few materials and some fresh plants, you can create ornaments featuring these glass-enclosed garden worlds to make your home jolly and bright. We think they're much more fun than your typical store-bought ornaments, and unlike those shiny green balls you'd see on a generic Christmas tree, these terrarium ornaments can stay out long after the yule tide comes and goes. Read on for our step by step tutorial to learn how to make your own!

DIY: How to Make a Terrarium Christmas Ornament! (via Neatorama)

Wreath made out of thread-spools


This (already sold) thread-spool wreath was made by Etsy seller Misstitchery -- it's lovely work.

Sale. Thread Spool Wreath (via Craft)

Christmassy leather decorative balls

Ukrainian steampunk leatherworker Bob Basset's taken a departure from his usual masks to produce these Christmas-themed "Mongol" decorative balls.

Xmas ball “Mongol”

Santastic Six: killer mashups for the holidays


djBC has released the sixth Santastic collection, a set of holiday mashups from some of the greatest sonic plunderers in the world (earlier efforts). As always, the Santastic mixes are fantastic. If you want my favorites, try Divide and Kreate's Santatage (MP3) (mashing Otis Redding vs The Beastie Boys vs Run DMC); ATOM's Wonderland Walker (MP3) (mashing Peggy Lee vs Fats Domino vs Bjork); and djBC's Mashing Christmas (MP3) (mashing Danny Elfman vs The Supremes vs Jimmy Stewart).

Santastic Six: 100% Holiday Mashups and Remixes (Thanks, djBC!)

WKRP's Turkey Drop, short attention span theater edition

Condensed for your abbreviated pleasure, WKRP in Cincinnati's classic turkey drop episode, shrunk down to a brisk 30 seconds. AS GOD IS MY WITNESS I SWEAR I THOUGHT TURKEYS COULD FLY.

WKRP Turkey Drop in 30 Seconds (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Frank cookery advice for turkey roasters

Before you put your bird in the oven, spare a moment for Tante Mary's "Just Put the Fucking Turkey in the Oven," a frank, 8-minute discussion of turkey, which includes the fact that making turkey taste good is less related to the bird, and more to the gravy, cranberries, and the all-important wine. "It's just a fucking bird. It doesn't taste very good." Sage advice.

Just Put the F*cking Turkey in the Oven (via MeFi)