Dutch engineer and artist Theo Jansen has created the most amazing kinematic sculptures, which he refers to as life forms. The incredibly ingenious mechanical linkages are powered by compressed air, harvested from the wind. They are made of PVC pipe, recycled bottles, and scrounged wood from shipping pallets. From a pile of junk, Jansen creates articulated multi-legged beasts which run free on the beaches of Holland. (Okay, amazing is a word that is thrown around a lot, but here is your proof.)
The astounding and huge creature that you see at 5:00 into the video is the inspiration for this excellent book/kit sold by EDU-TOYS. This combination assembly kit and booklet includes the plastic parts engineered by the Japanese educational product producer Gakken and a new 24-page English language booklet. You’ll get fascinating photos of Jansen and his various creations in their natural environment as well as well-written and illustrated instructions. And you’ll need them! The kit has over 130 parts, which at first seems a little intimidating. However, simply follow the clear line drawings for each step of assembly and the sequence and logic to the parts become clear.
The engineering and molding is top quality with polished molds and flash-free parts. No glue or tools are needed. All the press fittings are snug, the snap junctions crisp, and the gears mesh perfectly with seemingly no friction. You’ll appreciate all the attention to detail when you finish the build: place the Mini Rhino on a flat surface and gently blow on the squirrel cage fan. The beest comes to life and walks across the table! The multi-link legs are driven by a central camshaft as the drive gears spin smoothly. WOW! What’s also nice is because it’s a kit you assemble yourself, you’ll have a feeling of accomplishment and a full understanding of how the clever design works (not something you’d get by simply buying an assembled version).
Rhinoceros Mini-Beest Science Kit
Ages 8 and up, over 130 parts, includes 24-page science booklet
$25 Buy a copy on Amazon
See sample pages at Wink.
Over the past decade or so, Lauren McLaughin (previously) has written a handful of outstanding YA novels, each dealing with difficult issues of gender, personal autonomy and the casual cruelty of teens, starting with Cycler (and its sequel, Re-Cycler) (a teenaged girl who turned into a boy for four days every month); Scored (a class-conscious surveillance dystopia); The Free (a desperate novel about a teen car-thief in juvie) and now, her best book yet: Send Pics, a gripping thriller about sextortion, high school, revenge and justice.
Wendy Liu grew up deeply enmeshed in technology, writing code for free/open source projects and devouring books by tech luminaries extolling the virtues of running tech startups; after turning down a job offer from Google, Liu helped found an ad-tech company and moved from Montreal to New York City to take her startup to an incubator. As she worked herself into exhaustion to build her product, she had a conversion experience, realizing that she was devoting her life to using tech to extract wealth and agency from others, rather than empowering them. This kicked off a journey that Liu documents in her new book, Abolish Silicon Valley: How to Liberate Technology from Capitalism, a memoir manifesto that's not just charming -- it's inspiring.
Matt Ruff is one of science fiction and fantasy's most consistently brilliant and innovative authors, whose recent work includes The Mirage (an incredible alternate history in which the Global War on Terror is kicked off when Christian crusaders from the blighted, tribal USA fly a plane into the United States of Arabia's Twin Towers in Dubai, giving the hawkish CIA chief Osama bin Laden the chance to launch the all-out war he's been champing for), and Lovecraft Country (an anti-racist reimagining of Cthulhu set in Jim Crow America where the real horror is white supremacy -- now being adapted for TV by Jordan Peele). In his new novel, 88 Names, Ruff adds to the canon of MMORPG heist novels (Charlie Stross's Rule 34, Neal Stephenson's Reamde, and my For the Win, to name three) with a unique take that he dubbed "Snow Crash meets The King and I."
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We’re at the midway point of 2020. So…how’s the year going for you so far? Yeah…we can guess. But while there’s a lot about 2020 we can’t directly control, maybe a little retail therapy can help make you feel better. Sure, the 39 items we gathered together can absolutely bring a smile to your face. […]