Boing Boing 

I Think You'll Find It's a Bit More Complicated Than That

Over the past decade, pharma-fighting Dr Ben Goldacre has written more than 500,000 words of fearlessly combative science journalism.

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Monstrous Regiment: the finest Discworld novel?

Monstrous Regiment, a book about gender, war, identity, strategy and tactics, can be enjoyed without reading any of the other marvellous books in the Discworld series.

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Lauren Ipsum: The Phantom Tollbooth meets Young Ladies' Illustrated Primer

Lauren Ipsum is an absolutely brilliant kids’ book about computer science, and it never mentions computer science—it’s a series of witty, charming, and educational parables about the fundamentals that underpin the discipline.

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$5 knockoff of world famous Parker 51 fountain pen

The Parker 51 vs Hero Extra Light

I had to try this $5 knockoff of my favorite pen, the Parker 51.

The burgundy colored Parker 51 has been one of my go to pens for decades. Produced continually from 1941 to 1972, the Parker 51 launched with marketing declaring it "the World's best pen." Currently pens in good working order can command prices in excess of $100, so I had to try this $5 imitation, the Hero Extra Light.

Parker 51 and Hero innards

Finish-wise the Hero is looks very similar to the Parker. The top of the cap is a bit more pointed and the Parker's translucent "jewel" is replaced with metal on the Hero. The band where the two halves of the pen fit together is also plastic on the Hero, rather than the metal ring on the Parker. The filling mechanism is nearly identical, as viewed. I have not disassembled the Hero, but likely will, at the very least it appears to be useful as replacement parts for the Parker.

In a writing test the Hero is most definitely not the Parker, however I've been writing with this nib for a long time. The Hero writes well enough, ink flows smoothly and I can certainly use the pen. I am not sure it'll ever acquire the same feeling in my hand as my authentic 51, even with years of use, but for $5 it is certainly close. The Hero strikes me more as a new pen rather than "just not a Parker 51."

If you want something super close to a Parker 51 but don't want to pay collectors prices, the Hero Extra Light is a good call.

Hero Extra Light Fountain Pen

The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Procedure

Nathaniel Burney continues his project to create an entire law-degree in comic-book form with The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Procedure, Vol I: Parts 1-3, the followup to his brilliant 2012 book Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law. Never has the Fourth Amendment been more graphic and accessible: Cory Doctorow is learning everything he needs for a life of successful criminal law and/or crime.

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Bill Gates: the best books I read in 2014

Philanthropist Bill Gates recommends five favorite books he read this year.

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Brian Krebs's "Spam Nation"

In Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door, Brian Krebs offers a fascinating look at the mass-scale cybercrime that underpins the spam in your inbox and provides an inside peek at a violent fight among its principle players. Cory Doctorow reviews.

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The 10 best adventure novels from 1965

Joshua Glenn shows why 1965 was a very good year for science fiction, comic books, and spy novels.

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Second Avenue Caper: When Goodfellas, Divas, and Dealers Plotted Against the Plague

In Second Avenue Caper: When Goodfellas, Divas, and Dealers Plotted Against the Plague, “Ray” recounts his brave, quixotic, tragicomic adventures as an experimental AIDS drug smuggler who funded his operation by selling weed out of his New York apartment, during the early years of the “gay plague.” It’s a strangely fitting subject for a graphic novel, and Joyce Brabner and Mark Zingarelli graphic novel make it work as a history book that’ll make you laugh and cry. Cory Doctorow reviews.

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The Expeditioners and the Secret of King Triton's Lair

SS Taylor and Katherine Roy’s adventurous YA series continues in a second volume that gets everything right: it’s a steampunked alternate history story that’s full of intrigue and light-touch, thoughtful critique of imperialism and colonialism, a story that lets you love your pith helmet while still questioning all that it stands for. Cory Doctorow (who loved book one) reviews the second Expeditioners book.

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Strong Female Protagonist Book One

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, several years’ worth of the wonderful webcomic Strong Female Protagonist has been collected in a book called Strong Female Protagonist Book One, and the story is now available in a single, powerful draught. Cory Doctorow reviews a comic that has a lot more to say about justice than the typical superhero story.

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El Deafo: moving, fresh YA comic-book memoir about growing up deaf

Cece Bell’s young adult graphic novel El Deafo is a beautiful, sweet, moving and funny memoir about growing up deaf. Take one part Ernie Pook’s Comeek and two parts of Peanuts, mix thoroughly, and add some indefinable secret ingredients, and you’ll get El Deafo, which Cory Doctorow thoroughly enjoyed.

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Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: why only an anthropologist can tell the story of Anonymous


The Spectator has just run my review of Gabriella Coleman's Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous , an anthropological recounting of the glories and disasters of Anonymous.

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The Peripheral: William Gibson vs William Gibson

In The Peripheral, William Gibson’s first futuristic novel since 1999’s All Tomorrow’s Parties, we experience the fantastic synthesis of a 20th century writer — the Gibson of Neuromancer, eyeball-kicks of flash and noir; and the Gibson of Pattern Recognition, arch and sly and dry and keen. Cory Doctorow reviews.

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Classic adventure game hero Gabriel Knight returns for remake

But what can he tell us about Voodoo? Brian Easton hopes for more.

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Paolo Bacigalupi's "The Doubt Factory"

From one of science fiction’s most versatile writers comes a caper novel about corporate sleaze and net-savvy guerrilla activists that is as thrilling as it is trenchant. Cory Doctorow reviews Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Doubt Factory.

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Scott McCloud's Best American Comics 2014

If there’s one thing Scott McCloud is better at than making comics, it’s explaining comics, which makes him the best possible editor for this year’s Best American Comics. McCloud’s volume is surprising, delightful, diverse, brave and endlessly wonderful.

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Steven Brust's "Hawk" - a new Vlad Taltos book!

Hawk, the 14th book in Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series, is a moving, funny and tantalizing end-game glimpse of the assassin, reluctant revolutionary and epic wisecracker. Cory Doctorow explains why he’s been reading this generation-spanning series of Hungarian mythology, revolutionary politics, and gastronomy for more than 30 years.

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No Such Thing: spooky (not scary!) picture book

In the new Flying Eye picture book No Such Thing, a little girl named Georgia finds herself in a delightfully spooky situation: things in her home keep going astray — but Georgia knows that there’s no such thing as ghosts. Cory Doctorow field tested the book on his six year old, and comes back with a tale of mystery, delight, and fright, just in time for Hallowe’en.

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Kidscomic Shakespeare: The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth

Adapting Shakespeare for kids is an age-old tradition stretching back almost to the time of Shakespeare itself. But as Cory Doctorow discovered, The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth brings The Scottish Play to life for audiences young and old in kids-comic form with a lot of broad humor and some grisly murder besides.

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Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel: Bad romance, Russia and writer's angst

Anya Ulinich’s 2008 debut novel Petropolis, marked her out as a master of tragicomic romance; now she’s back with a huge, hilarious, bitter graphic novel about sex, immigration, the Russian soul, and heartbreak. Cory Doctorow reviews Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel: A Graphic Novel.

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Wendy and Richard Pini's Complete Elfquest

The Complete Elfquest is a mammoth graphic novel collecting the entire original series, as self-published by Wendy and Richard Pini from 1978-1985. Rob Beschizza sums up what’s so great about it.

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Scott Westerfeld's Afterworlds

Scott Westerfeld’s latest novel, Afterworlds is a book about a teenager who’s just sold her first book. It’s a story-within-a-story, and it works brilliantly. Cory Doctorow unpacks the nesting tales of Darcy Patel and Elizabeth Scofield.

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Lauren Beukes's Broken Monsters

Lauren Beukes’s latest crime/horror novel Broken Monsters marries the snappy, hard-boiled cleverness of her 2010 novel Zoo City with the visceral horror of 2013’s The Shining Girls and yields up a tale that’s as terrifying as it is contemporary — Cory Doctorow reviews Broken Monsters.

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Mice and Mystics: awesome dungeoncrawler board game for all ages

Mice and Mystics is a beautifully-produced board game that creates a relatively all-ages-friendly dungeon crawl RPG experience without need for a dungeon master. “My kids went absolutely bananas over this game in a way I haven’t seen before,” says Jon Seagull

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Seconds, by Bryan Lee "Scott Pilgrim" O'Malley

What do you do for a followup after a triumph like the Scott Pilgrim series? If you’re Bryan Lee O’Malley, you do Seconds, a graphic novel that’s three notches less self-consciously clever, and six notches more heartfelt, smart, and sweet. Cory Doctorow reviews Seconds.

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Steven Gould's "Exo," a Jumper novel by way of Heinlein's "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel"

Steven Gould’s 1993 YA novel Jumper was a spectacular success (even if the film “adaptation” stank on ice), and each of the (all-too-infrequent) sequels have raised both the stakes and the bar for a must-read series. But with Exo, published today, Gould takes his game into orbit — literally.

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The Portlandia Activity Book

Inspired by the hilarious and quirky TV show Portlandia, The Portlandia Activity Book, written by Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, and Jonathan Krisel includes all kinds of Portland-related activities, tests and advice, such as a “Build Your Own Chore Wheel,” conversation starter cards, conversation stopper cards, fashion tips, bird stencils, silly word games, and more.

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Glimpses: amazing audiobook of one of the all-time-great rock-n-roll novels

Cory Doctorow rates Lewis Shiner’s haunting Glimpses as one of the all-time great rock-n-roll novels, right up there with George RR Martin’s stupendous Armageddon Rag. It’s now available as an audiobook, and he’s delighted.

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The Magician and the Cardsharp: The Search for America's Greatest Sleight-of-Hand Artist

A Gweek listener recommended The Magician and the Cardsharp to me (I can't remember who - sorry!) and I'm thankful he did. It's a well-told story about two men with intersecting lifelong goals. The first man was Allen Kennedy (1865–1961) a professional card cheat who spent many years perfecting his technique to deal cards from the center of the deck undetected. The second man was Dai Vernon (1894–1992), one of the most highly-respected sleight-of-hand magicians in history.

Vernon, who worked as a silhouette cutter in department stores, had been interested in card tricks (especially ones involving sleight-of-hand) since childhood. By the time he was an adult, he'd gained a reputation for being one of the best card handlers in the world. From time-to-time, Vernon would heard rumors that there was a professional cardsharp somewhere in Missouri who'd mastered the mythical Center Deal, a move that almost every magician dismissed as an impossible fantasy.

Vernon had his doubts too, but the rumors continued to spread, and his curiosity got the better of him. He embarked on a years-long quest, involving much travel and encounters with scary characters, to find out if there really was someone who had invented an undetectable center deal and, if he existed, to convince the man to teach him how it was done. This book is not only the story of Vernon's search for, and eventual meeting with, the man behind the rumor, it is also a history of the American midwest's rough-and-tumble past, replete with illegal gambling dens, speakeasies, con-men, whorehouses, and mobsters. Author Karl Johnson does a fine job of bringing the dusty, dangerous, boisterous, exciting atmosphere of small city vice to life.

The Magician and the Cardsharp

Video below shows a sample of the genius of Dai Vernon: