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Gweek podcast 134: Minecraft Raspberry Pi

In each episode of Gweek, I invite a guest or two to join me in a discussion about recommended media, apps, and gadgets. This time my guests were Clive Thompson, a science and technology journalist, whose new book is Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better, and Ruben Bolling, author of the weekly comic strip Tom the Dancing Bug, which premieres each week on Boing Boing, and pre-premiers for members of his Inner Hive.

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Show Notes:

Clives's picks:

The Gorgeous Nothings, a book that reprints 52 of Emily Dickinson’s poems that she wrote on the backs of used envelopes. They’re incredibly beautiful, and it’s fascinating to see the way she wrapped her writing around the contours of each scrap of envelope.

Tombow 100th anniversary Drawing Pencils: I am a total pencil fetishist, and recently bought a box of these things -- they’re lovely.

Ruben's picks

A graphic novel called Life With Mr. Dangerous, by Paul Hornschemeier

Rip Kirby, by Alex Raymond

Mark's pick:

I got a Minecraft server running on a Raspberry Pi (a credit card sized computer). It actually works! I’m reminded of Staislaw Lem’s short story, ”The Seventh Sally or How Trurl’s Own Perfection Led to No Good,” from The Mind’s I.

And much more!

Excellent old pencil ad in Life magazine (1964)

Michael Leddy of Orange Crate Art wrote about his favorite pencil, the Eberhard Faber Mongol (ad copy: “writers say it actually stimulates flow of thoughts”), and included this attractive 1964 Life magazine ad for the Mongol and other Eberhard Faber products.

My two favorite parts: the Mongol's twin-pack packaging, and the copy for the Colorbrite pencils ("Intense Color at a feather touch").

Intricate sculptures carved from pencils

Cerkahegyzo is a Hungarian tool maker. In his spare time, he uses "needles, razor blades, sandpaper, files, and polishing stones" to carve pencils into works of art. Twisted Sifter has a gallery of his incredible work.

David Rees is getting bored sharpening pencils at $35 apiece

David Rees, author of How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening, has a pencil sharpening service. He charges $35 to sharpen each pencil. To date he has sharpened 1,804 pencils. But he is growing weary of the work and is thinking about closing the business.

"The whole point of the business is to remind people to appreciate yellow, No. 2 pencils because they're really cool and interesting," he said. "And to make a ton of money."

But at this point, work feels like work.

"You do anything long enough for money, it just starts to become a job," he said.

So as he nears the nice round number of 2,000 sharpenings, Rees suggested that soon he'd like to clean out his sharpeners for good, leaving the world a much duller place.

New York man sharpens pencils for $35 a pop

Pencil revolution

Here is the best website about pencils. The Atlantic's Rebecca J. Rosen sings its praises:

So, the obvious question is, why pencils? What is it about pencils that merit this sort of attention, this level of devotion? Johnny Gamber, the site's creator and leader, answered that for me over email. What draws him to pencils are "their relative simplicity." But, at that same time, that simplicity obscures an object that, as Gamber sees it, is "amazing," if you just look closely enough. "While mostly made of wood, graphite and clay, they are wonders of engineering," he writes. "Even terrible pencils are made with astounding precision.

Yes, of course, the author loves our house instrument, the Blackwing 602.

Perfectly sharpened pencils

I use soft pencils and I bear down hard when I write. As a result, I have to resharpen the pencils frequently. A few years ago I came across this pocket-size two-hole pencil sharpener and now swear by it. It produces very sharp points and does so efficiently.

NewImage

Hole 1 shaves just the pencil’s wood casing , exposing (but barely touching) the graphite. You are left with a cylinder of graphite sticking out of the pencil tip, as shown below.

Read the rest

The "Perfect Pencil"

Faber Castell's Perfect Pencil is described by the ad copy as "the culmination of the history of the pencil", which somehow does not quite prepare one for the eye-watering $240 price tag—or that of the $500 gift set! Don't worry, though: refills are only $50. [via Uncrate]

Previously: The new Palomino Blackwing 602 pencil is a fine tribute to the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602.

Underlord with two minions, a pencil sculpture


5star's Lords of Graphite is a series of sculptures made from pencil segments: "The vision that haunts me still is a landscape of dark brooding mystic air - raw rough lines drawn forcefully throughout by the Lords of Graphite."

Teacher bans pencils

An elementary school in Massachusetts prohibited sixth-grade students from carrying "any writing implements" not given to them by teachers. Those who carried their own pencils were assumed to be building "weapons." The ban has since been rescinded. [Telegram]

Sharpie liquid pencil

IMG_06821-576x634.jpg Sharpie is to sell a 'liquid pencil,' a pen with erasable ink made from graphite that only becomes permanent after three days' exposure to the air. In the meantime, it may be rubbed out with a standard eraser. It'll hit stores this fall. Introducing The NEW Sharpie LIQUID PENCIL [Sharpie via Wired] Update: WordPressfail. Updated link to point to google cache.