HPV cancers a mystery in men

Human papillomavirus is a well-known and widely researched threat to womens' health. But men are at risk too, writes Maggie Koerth-Baker,—and the scientific outlook is much more uncertain.

Why we need copper — and why it's harder and harder to get

Tim Heffernan has done some fantastic guest blogging here at BoingBoing. Now, at Pacific Standard, he's got a story about copper — a natural resource that will affect the future of everything. Just as we're needing more and more of it, this metal is getting harder to reach. Read the rest

Solving a nearly 100-year-old cold case

Dan Herbeck of The Buffalo News has a story about how researchers are using historic archives and forensic data to solve (maybe) a nearly 100-year-old string of murders in upstate New York. The killings might have been the work of a previously unidentified serial killer. Read the rest

Gay adoption in America

My journalism school classmate Clay Wirestone has a fantastic series at the Concord Monitor, describing the stories and struggles of gay and lesbian parents as they adopt and raise children. It starts with the story of his own adoption, with his husband Max, of their now 2-year-old son Baxter. Other entries in the series examine how the legal landscape of gay parenting has changed in the last 20 years; the issues of language, word choice, and gender that GLBT families deal with; and the diverse stories of other families. Read the rest

The worst 48 hours in Minneapolis/St. Paul

Reuters has a travel guide to how to spend a weekend in Minneapolis and St. Paul. It's supposed to be an enjoyable weekend, I think, but that's not entirely clear. Beginning with a stop in the airport restrooms (no mention of Larry Craig) the travel guide recommends eating at generic chain restaurants, spending a Saturday in the Mall of America, and taking in a baseball "match" (which, readers are warned, can last as long as 3.5 hours, not counting the possibility of overtime). The guide is correct, though, on one thing. A view of the setting sun and skyscrapers from Target Field would be impressive — especially considering the fact that the skyscrapers are decidedly to the South and East of the stadium, and not much of the seating faces West, anyway. Read the rest

SF will save the humanities

The modern scholarly funding imperative is "fund only that which produces American wealth," and this has been devastating to the humanities. But here's a good reason to fund the humanities: they give us science fiction, and sf is a secret engine of innovation and economic growth. Read the rest

Analyzing the Bigfoot genome

Back in February, a Texas forensic scientist announced that she'd identified a DNA sample from Bigfoot and had sequenced the creature's genome. Now the sequences have been released for wider scrutiny and Ars Technica's John Timmer had a chance to dig into the data and speak with the discoverer of the possible Bigfoot genome. This is a story that, I think, everybody can enjoy — a skeptical analysis that's respectful to the Bigfoot researchers and genuinely interested in understanding where the DNA in question came from and what the genome sequences can tell us. Read the rest

The Optimist: Disney alternate reality game

The Optimist is a new alternate reality game from Walt Disney Imagineering R&D. It's a six-week story that plays out across social media and across the LA area, culminating with the D23 Fan Expo in August. Here's the setup: "Amelia, a young filmmaker, has stumbled upon a revolutionary secret...and she needs your help." Go! Read the rest

Behavioral economics of Free to Play games

Ramin Shokrizade's "Top F2P Monetization Tricks" shows how the free-to-play world deploys practical behavioral economics to convince players to spend more than they intend to, adapting to players to hook them and then pry open their wallets wider and wider. I was very interested to learn that some games look for behaviors that mark out "spenders" and convert themselves from "skill games" (win by being good at them) to "money games" (win only by spending):

A game of skill is one where your ability to make sound decisions primarily determines your success. A money game is one where your ability to spend money is the primary determinant of your success. Consumers far prefer skill games to money games, for obvious reasons. A key skill in deploying a coercive monetization model is to disguise your money game as a skill game.

King.com's Candy Crush Saga is designed masterfully in this regard. Early game play maps can be completed by almost anyone without spending money, and they slowly increase in difficulty. This presents a challenge to the skills of the player, making them feel good when they advance due to their abilities. Once the consumer has been marked as a spender (more on this later) the game difficulty ramps up massively, shifting the game from a skill game to a money game as progression becomes more dependent on the use of premium boosts than on player skills.

If the shift from skill game to money game is done in a subtle enough manner, the brain of the consumer has a hard time realizing that the rules of the game have changed.

Read the rest

Look for 100 Stylophone players this weekend in LA

Mark Allen of Machine Project in LA says: "We are working on an event this weekend trying to get 100 people together to play Stylophones (cool+cheap synths). We've got the stylophones but need the people." Are you one of those people?

Symphony for 100 Stylophones Read the rest

Yes Is The Answer -- essays about progressive rock

My friend Marc Weingarten co-edited a book with Tyson Cornell called Yes Is The Answer (and Other Prog Rock Tales). I haven't read it yet but it sounds excellent:

Progressive rock is maligned and misunderstood. Critics hate it, hipsters scoff at it. Yes Is The Answer is a pointed rebuke to the prog-haters, the first literary anthology devoted to the sub genre. Featuring acclaimed novelists, Rick Moody, Wesley Stace, Seth Greenland, Charles Bock, and Joe Meno, as well as musicians Nathan Larson, and Peter Case, Yes Is The Answer is the first book that dares to thoughtfully reclaim prog-rock as a subject worthy of serious consideration.

Yes Is The Answer (and Other Prog Rock Tales) Read the rest

Judge orders Secret Service to release Aaron Swartz's files

Wired reporter Kevin Pouslsen has had a major victory in his legal battle against the US Secret Service over Aaron Swartz's files. The Secret Service refused to release the thousands of pages of files they had compiled on Aaron, but yesterday, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered them to "promptly release to Plaintiff all responsive documents that it has gathered thus far and shall continue to produce additional responsive documents that it locates on a rolling basis." The Secret Service has until August 5 to produce a timetable for the documents' release. Read the rest

3D printing with Sugru

The Hy-Rel 3D is a 3D printer with four extruder heads that prints with play-doh, Sugru, plasticine, and other pasty substances. Here's a demo of the printer running four different colors of Sugru -- a great, fast-drying, dishwasher safe fix-everything putty -- to print out a (fairly low-rez) semi-sphere. The Hy-Rel was funded through a successful Kickstarter, and now sports "emulsifying extruders" that are the basis for this demo.

3D printing sugru for the first time! Read the rest

Heritage illustration art auction loaded with A-list artists

Heritage Auctions is having another one of its fabulous illustration art auctions. In addition to work by great artists like Gil Elvgren, Norman Rockwell, Alberto Vargas, and Frank Kelly Freas, there are oddball pieces like this one: Safety First, by Robert A Heuel II. Opening bid is $1! Read the rest

Car with mounted "gun" panics Detroit suburb

Matthew says: "A Detroit man was arrested for driving an armor-plated military vehicle equipped with a World War II .50-caliber machine gun that had been converted to fire compressed gas." Read the rest

Auction: V.I.N.CENT robot prop from 1979's Black Hole

Zack sez, "For a starting bid of a mere $40,000, you can own the adorable Roddy McDowell-voiced robot from the eerie, somewhat incomprehensible 1979 Disney SF flick THE BLACK HOLE. The full-sized model includes lights, an internal motor to make the robot's head move, and a certificate of authenticity from the Disney Company. Sadly, there is no word on the availability of Old B.O.B. or Maximillian."

Lot 620: Full-size, screen-used V.I.N.CENT the robot hero from The Black Hole.

(Thanks, Zack!) Read the rest

Replica 1920s lightbulb voltage tester with a bar inside it

Restoration Hardware's "1920s German Light Bulb Voltage Tester Bar" sells for $2000. It's a replica of a century-old refitted German lightbulb voltage tester salvaged from a German factory, and it oozes Weimar decadence. It weighs 265lbs.

1920s German Light Bulb Voltage Tester Bar

(via OhGizmo) Read the rest

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