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Portsmouth Middle School warns parents about Smartie-snorting epidemic and the risk of nasal maggots


Parents in Portsmouth, Rhode Island got a letter from the Portsmouth Middle School warning them that students may be snorting and smoking ground-up Smarties candies. The letter warns of risks of cuts, lung infections, nasal passage scarring, nose-wedged maggots (!), and future cigarette and drug use. John McDaid, a writer and local investigative blogger, got a comment from Portsmouth School Committee chair Dave Croston, who stated "I can say only that this behavior raises troubling issue of modeling."

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Flowers From Al, written with Charles Stross (conclusion)

Here's the second, concluding part of my reading of my 2003 short story "Flowers From Al," written with Charlie Stross for New Voices in Science Fiction, a Mike Resnick anthology (Here's part one). It's a pervy, weird story of transhuman romance.

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Shanghai hotel provides smog-masks for guests


Redditor Mthomaseddy snapped this photo of the elegantly packaged "gas mask" (apparently an air-filter mask, not something to be used in gas-attacks) that was waiting in his room at the Shanghai Fairmont when he checked in. China's pretty damned smoggy these days.

Shanghai hotels know how to pamper you (via Super Punch)

Twins born a year apart on New Years eve

I was a midnight birth, born somewhere between 7/16/71 and 7/17/71 (the doctor let my mom choose my birthday). For New Years babies born around midnight, the choice is more momentous -- a whole year's difference! But what about New Years twin births? A woman in DC delivered her twins in two different years, three minutes apart.

Northampton Clown sparks nationwide plague of copycat horror-clowns


The Northampton Clown -- AKA Alex Powell -- made headlines for a series of creepy selfies taken around the English city of Northampton. Now, his notoriety has sparked a nationwide trend of copycat clown-pranksters who make mischief such as rapping on peoples' windows while brandishing weapons. England's clowns are furious.

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Sea-slug sex-life: love among forehead-penetrating, fork-penised hermaphrodites

Forget sea-slugs with detachable pensises: the Siphopteron species 1, recently discovered by the University of Tubigen's Rolanda Lange, has the most awesomely weird sex-life of any sea-slug heretofore known to sea-slug perverts.

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Auctioning a conceptual copy of Banksy's thrifted "Banality of the Banality of Evil" to benefit 826 Valencia


A San Francisco artist commissioned a Chinese artist to make a copy of "The Banality of the Banality of Evil" -- a painting that Banksy thrifted, added a Nazi to, and shop-dropped back into the thrift store. The copy, called "The Banality Of The Banality Of The Banality Of Evil," is now being auctioned to support 826 Valencia, a literacy for kids program in San Francisco.

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Severed hand grafted to ankle, reattached to wrist a month later


When Xiao Wei's right hand was severed in an industrial accident, doctors at a hospital in Changde, China, grafted it to his ankle. The blood supply from his ankle kept the hand alive and viable on the seven-hour journey to a larger hospital with better facilities, where it was removed a month later from his ankle and reattached to his wrist. It's not clear whether he'll regain the use of his hand, but doctors are hopeful.

Severed hand saved after being attached to man’s ankle [Metro]

(via JWZ)

(Image: Rex)

Hammer nunchuks


Etsy seller Thesmartaleck made these hammer nunchuks out of "two hammers connected by found object nunchaku chain." It looks absolutely insane. $300.

Nunchaku hammer sculpture. (via Neatorama)

Fantasy knife: a skull-faced, many-bladed forearm scorpion


BladesUSA offers this 14.5" "fantasy knife" that really has it all: a skull with fangs, pincers, scorpionoid body-segments, a lethal-looking stinger (perfect for inadvertent self-blinding while scratching your nose), the whole package. It comes with a wall-mounted display, though why you'd ever take it off is beyond me. (via OhGizmo)

Optical illusion of the day


Cover the middle seam with your finger, marvel as the contrast effect changes EVERYTHING. Jason Kottke thinks the creator is a witch. When I showed it to my daughter, she said, "Well, your finger is covering up the light that's making it brighter," which is true in a weird sorta way.

Freaky optical illusion

Creepy kids in vintage ads


The current contest at the Vintage Ads LiveJournal Group is "Creepy Kids" and there's some pretty amazing entries. Shown here, the always-reliable noluck-boston's 1953 Van Camp's Pork and Beans ad.

How the platypus lost its stomach

Ember the platypus has no stomach. But there's nothing wrong with her. No platypuses have stomachs. They're just one of a surprising number of vertebrate species that have evolutionarily jettisoned their stomachs, in favor of a straight-shot digestive tract that directly connects the throat to the intestines.

Rooster-faced warriors of 16th century Germany


16th century German soldiery sure understood how to strike terror into their enemies' hearts: the rooster-headed armored visor (ca 1530) must have been a sight to behold. Now on display at the Met in NYC (Bashford Dean Memorial Collection, Bequest of Bashford Dean, 1928)

Close Helmet with Mask Visor (via Neatorama)

Bimbo's Initiation: Max Fleischer's darkest cartoon

The 1931 Max Fleischer cartoon Bimbo's Initiation is a miracle of awesome, fleischerian weirdness. It's the last Betty Boop cartoon that was personally animated by her creator, Grim Natwick. It's so delightfully bizarre (Leonard Maltin called it "the 'darkest of all" of Fleischer's work), and the perfect way to end the weekend.

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Man convicted of urinating on hotel carpet while shouting racist abuse, while masturbating with a fire-extinguisher hose up his ass

Sometimes the headlines just write themselves: "Premier Inn guest hurled racist abuse with fire extinguisher hose up his bottom" being a case in point. The sordid tale involves Joseph Small of Sheffield, who checked into a Premier Inn in London while in town to buy a used car. A clerk saw him naked in a hotel corridor on the CCTV camera; when he went to investigate, he found Small holding a fire-extinguisher, whose hose Small then stuck up his bum, while fondling himself and shouting "This country has been taken over by al-Qaeda – go back to Pakistan" at the clerk. The clerk is of Bangladeshi origin. Mr Small later urinated on the lobby carpet while shouting "I'm from Sheffield!"

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Nasal Ranger Field Olfactometer


The Nasal Ranger Field Olfactometer is a gadget for empirically measuring the presence of stink-particles in a given environment. It is being deployed in Denver to measure compliance with a by-law prompted by Colorado's rules for legal marijuana: you're allowed to smoke weed, but you are not permitted to spread the smell of marijuana into your neighbors' spaces.

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Epigenetics continues to be just freaking nuts

We know that stressful experiences can have negative biological repercussions — not just for the people who experience the stress, but also for their children. Now, there's some evidence that this transfer of stress effects might not just be due to a simple case of PTSD changing the way you raise/treat your kids. In a study that's inspired both deep skepticism and jaw-dropping awe (both with good reason) scientists were able to train male mice to fear a specific smell — and then observe that same fear/stress response to the smell in the mice's children and grandchildren. This, despite the fact that the younger generations never had contact with their trained fathers. These results are crazy enough that you shouldn't take them as gospel. But they are hella interesting and will definitely lead to a lot more research as other scientists attempt to replicate them.

Disneyvision: strobing zoetrope holotank filled with glitchy rubber characters


I scored the damndest crapgadget yesterday: Disney's Disneyvision is a little box styled like a vintage TV. Where the tube would go is a flexible plastic wand attached to a variable motor, lit by a strobing white LED. You put a wiggly rubber 2" characters on the wand (effectively sticking the wand up its butt), turn on the motor and the light, and the strobe creates a zoetrope effect that makes it seem like the characters are energetically dancing.

But the damned thing is the variability -- the resonant frequencies of the characters' appendages kick in at different motor-intensities and the strobe-frequency produces even more surprising choices. There's a sweet spot where the characters appear to be in a kind of holo-tank, dancing or fluttering, but there's also a whole range of totally glitched-out possibilities in which the character flicker through what appears to be a kind of hilariously horrible video malfunctions.

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Crowdfunding an in vitro meat cookbook


Eindhoven's Next Nature Lab is running an IndiegOgO fundraiser for a "Meat the Future Cookbook" -- a piece of design fiction setting out recipes we might be able to prepare when in vitro meat-growth is the norm. There's meat grown from your own flesh, cultured in a medallion you wear around your neck while it matures; rainbow meatballs, meat that you knit, meat-paint that kids use to paint edible pictures, meat cultured from samples of extinct dodos and dinos, and transparent meat "sushi."

There's four days left, and &eur;25 gets you a copy of the cookbook (&eur;15 for a digital version). Next Nature produces some gorgeous books on these lines, so it's a good bet that Meat the Future will be a lovely little piece.

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Volcano blows smoke rings


Image: Tom Pfeiffer/Volcano Discovery

Sicily's Mount Etna volcano is currently erupting. The series of explosions began on October 26, but on November 11, the mountain did something rare and nifty. Over the course of several hours it blew out dozens of perfect smoke rings, each hundreds of feet in diameter, including the one pictured here.

It's not the first time Etna has done this. Nobody knows exactly how the rings form, but people have been photographing smoke rings coming from Etna since at least 1970. Volcanologist and tour guide Tom Pfeiffer took this picture, as well as several others that you can see at his Volcano Discovery website. He suspects that the smoke rings are formed when eruptions alter the shape of volcanic vents.

A mysterious form of water with unique chemical properties

In the 1960s, Russian scientists discovered a new form of water that congealed at room temperature, froze at -40, and wouldn't boil no matter the temperature. For a few brief years, "polywater" was a scientific rage — the subject of pop culture craziness, Cold War research races, and CIA interrogations. At Slate, Joseph Stromberg tells the story of polywater and explains why, despite all that hype, most of us have never heard of it today.

Fruitfly evolved pictures of ants on its wings


A recently discovered G tridens fruitfly that has evolved a to have images of detailed, ant-like insects on each wing, complete with six legs, a thorax, antennae and a tapered abdomen. The fly uses the images defensively, waving them back and forth when threatened to create the illusion of massing ants. Many G Tridens varieties bear elaborate wing markings, but this one, discovered in Oman, is very striking. I think more beasties should have van-art bestowed on them by the strange world of evolution.

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"The Box of Crazy": amazing codex "found by the trash"

The trash is a mundane place to find the magical work presented anonymously as "The Box of Crazy". This could be the next Codex Seraphinus! Or, perhaps, it's marketing for something or other. In any case, the William Blake-esque paintings are a particularly fine touch. Business Insider, collating the work of Redditors, runs through components of its rather too-neat origin story. Sometimes, I wish people could just enjoy a good yarn rather than focusing entirely on finding details that permit the shouting of "Hoax! Hoax!"—but such are our times.

Scriptura Vitae: surreal, caligraphic, Butoh dance video

Souris writes, "Scriptura Vitae is the directorial debut of New York-based artist, designer and filmmaker Aerosyn-lex Mestrovic. Having collaborated with the likes of Kanye West and KENZO, Mestrovic's latest venture is an ambitious three-part journey into the unknown that showcases Lex's haunting ritualistic calligraphy, alongside stunningly choreographed Japanese Butoh performances set to a score which features original music by the Grammy Nominated DIPLO. The film stars famed Japanese actress Miho Nikaido, best known for her role in the cult-classic and previously banned film Tokyo Decadence which was written and directed by lauded novelist Ryu Murakami. The effects in the film are visually striking, combining modern compositing with in-camera painting to devise something wholly unique."

◢ SCRIPTURA VITAE † A FILM BY AEROSYN-LEX MESTROVIC ◣ (Thanks, Souris!)

Self-balancing unicycle

The SBUV3 is a self-balancing, motorized electric unicyle that you steer by shifting your center of gravity. They cost about $1800, feature regenerative braking, and have a top speed of 12.5mph. The steering software adapts to you (and vice-versa), fine-tuning its responsiveness based on your riding-style.

One Wheel. ∞ Fun (Thanks, Rob!)

Secret behind strange hum heard on England's south coast

Midshipman fish

The likely source of a strange hum that has been disturbing residents of Hythe, near Southampton, England, has been identified: horny fish. The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) investigated the low-frequency noise and think it may be the sound of male midshipman fish eager to mate in a nearby estuary. "It's not beyond the realms of possibility," SAMS scientist Ben Wilson told The Telegraph. "There are certainly 'sonic fish' in the north Atlantic and the approaches to the English Channel."

EMMA: juxtaposes dream reports and Street View imagery

Dream

Pierre Chevalier's "EMMA" is a curious online art/code project that grabs random images from Google Street View and juxtaposes them with random text snippets from the DreamBank database of dream reports. (via Waxy)

Houston's Beer Can House, photographed by a Boing Boing reader

Boing Boing reader Molly Block shot a wonderful set of photos documenting The Beer Can House in Houston, Texas. She shared them in our Boing Boing Flickr Pool.

She writes:

Native Houstonian John Milkovisch started the project in 1968. Following Mr. Milkovisch's death in 1988, and the death of his wife Mary, the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, a Houston-based non-profit arts organization, purchased the house and later restored it.

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Museum of Four in the Morning

"Four in the morning" appears with strange frequency in movies, TV, art, and culture. The Museum of Four In The Morning collects such references. Submit yours!