Boris the Babybot: a picture book about resisting surveillance

Privacy activst Murray Hunter's picture book Boris the Babybot tells the story of Boris, a robot whose job it is track all the babies and send their likenesses and preferences back to the factory so that its owners can make money by deciding who's a good baby and who's a bad baby. Read the rest

The Monsters Know What They're Doing: an RPG sourcebook for DMs who want to imbue monsters with deep, smart tactics

For years, Keith Ammann has maintained his blog, The Monsters Know What They're Doing, in which he carefully laid out the logical tactics that the monsters of Dungeons and Dragons would use in combat, based on their alignment, stats, and habitats, creating sophisticated advice for Dungeon Masters hoping to move their combat encounters from rote stab-stab-kill affairs into distinctive, memorable strategy-and-tactics affairs that created not just variety and challenges for players, but also depth and verisimilitude. Now, Ammann's work has been collected in the first of two planned volumes: The Monsters Know What They're Doing: Combat Tactics for Dungeon Masters is one of the most interesting, thoughtful, smart RPG sourcebooks I've ever read.

58" long CVS receipt scarf is only slightly shorter than actual CVS receipts

Kathryn Hughes's $19.95 CVS Receipt Scarf sends up the company's infamously absurd receipts -- at 58" long, the handmade/hand-cut scarves are only slightly shorter than the real thing! (via Kottke) Read the rest

Die-cut Delete Facebook stickers

W Aaron Waychoff created these great diecut #DeleteFacebook stickers ($5 for 5); he sells them from his Etsy store where he also offers a bounty of other political stickers, pins and swag. Read the rest

Black Flag/Iain Banks mashup tee

Rogue Print's inaugural tee design for 2020 is a mashup Iain Banks (previously, RIP)/Black Flag tribute available as a baseball tee or a regular one -- both ship with a set of writers as bands stickers. Read the rest

Review: Aeropress Go, the best travel coffee you'll ever brew

I've been writing about the Aeropress coffee maker for years, an ingenious, compact, low-cost way of brewing outstanding coffee with vastly less fuss and variation than any other method. For a decade, I've kept an Aeropress in my travel bag, even adding a collapsible silicone kettle for those hotel rooms lacking even a standard coffee-maker to heat water with.

After more than a decade, Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg's YA classics The PLAIN Janes are back!

[I adored Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg's YA graphic novels The PLAIN Janes and Janes in Love, which were the defining titles for the late, lamented Minx imprint from DC comics. A decade later, the creators have gotten the rights back and there's a new edition Little, Brown. We're honored to have an exclusive transcript of Cecil and Jim in conversation, discussing the origins of Plain Janes. Make no mistake: this reissue is amazing news, and Plain James is an underappreciated monster of a classic, finally getting another day in the spotlight. If you haven't read it, consider yourself lucky, because you're about to get another chance. -Cory]

The finger-tentacled baby sculptures of Clay Per Day

Clay Per Day is a Dutch sculptor whose Etsy store features grotesque, "realistic" sculptures that mash up the heads of angry babies with spiders and knurled fingers, about the right size for posing on your desk at work. (via Creepbay) Read the rest

Sweet stocking-stuffer: an LED flashlight that clips onto a 9V battery

The Lixada LED Handheld Flashlight is a $9 stocking-stuffer ($29 for 4): a six-LED/36 lumen flashlight that clips directly over the terminals of a 9V battery, forming an easy flashlight rated for up to 10,000 hours (battery life depends on whether you're switched to 6, 4 or 2 LEDs). One reviewer uses 9V batteries swapped out of smoke detectors as power-sources for these. (via Kottke) Read the rest

Coop's Randotti skulls: now available as tights!

Artist Coop's revival of the outstanding skulls of the Randotti Corporation (as seen at Disneyland and Walt Disney World!) continues with a line of tights featuring Haunted Skull, Voodoo Skull and Pirate Skull. Read the rest

Cards Against Humanity's Thanksgiving livestream pits a machine learning model against human joke writers

Cards Against Humanity asked Spencer Kelly to teach a computer to write mean, funny joke-cards for a new, AI-based expansion pack to the game; Kelly trained the popular GPT-2 generative language model (previously) on existing cards, and now the company is livestreaming a 16-hour competition between its AI and its human joke-writers, with a voting system to up/downvote the resulting jokes (at the end of the day, these votes will be "tallied up and thrown in the garbage"). You can choose to buy the resulting packs, and if the human team outsells the robots, it will receive a $5,000 bonus. If they fail, they will all be fired. Read the rest

Maps of the lost streetcar and subway systems of North America

Jake Berman writes, "I've drawn a series of maps showing the lost streetcar and subway systems of North America." He's selling them as prints. Read the rest

Mozilla updates its "Privacy Not Included" gift guide for 2019

As with last year, the Mozilla Foundation's privacy researchers have produced a guide to electronic gifts called "Privacy Not Included," which rates gadgets on a "creepiness" scale, with devices like the Sonos One SL dumb "smart speaker" (Sonos ripped out all the junk that isn't about playing music) getting top marks, and Ring Security Cams, Nest Cams, Amazon Echos, and other cam/mic-equipped gadgets coming in as "Super Creepy!" (the exclamation point is part of the rating). Read the rest

The X-Misses: Christmas music to sing to and rage by

Back in 2010, I did book-tour appearance in Seattle with a great indie band called "Pillow Army," whose music I'm still listening to today; in 2013, Pillow Army's frontman Tim Franklin had started recording angry, atheist Christmas carols and now he's got a whole band devoted to the genre: The X-Misses, whose music is a mix of funny, angry, noisy, and singable new Christmas music that makes for a great complement to other nontraditional seasonal music like DJ Riko's Merry Mixmas mashups. You can buy the album Christmas Reminiscences as a download, or get the whole vinyl album along with a download card that's hole-punched so you can hang it as a Christmas tree ornament. (Thanks, Tim!) Read the rest

Tokyo Disneyland's new vinyl LP is AMAZING

Tokyo Disneyland is a curious beast: it's owned by a Japanese company (the "Oriental Land Company") but the company is contractually obligated to use Disney as its sole supplier of rides and designs; historically, TDL has expanded by ordering the very best, most popular rides and shows from other Disney parks, and then paying to have them built to the very highest possible specification -- it's a kind of global best-of Disney park, gold plated and buffed to a high finish. Read the rest

Naomi Kritzer's "Catfishing on the CatNet": an AI caper about the true nature of online friendship

Back in 2016, Naomi Kritzer won the Hugo award for her brilliant, endearing story Cat Pictures Please, in which an AI with an insatiable craving for cat pictures explains its view on the world and the way that it makes humans' lives better; now Kritzer has adapted the story into her new novel, the equally brilliant, superbly plotted YA thriller Catfishing on CatNet. Read the rest

Girl on Film: a graphic novel memoir of a life in the arts and the biological basis for memory-formation

Cecil Castellucci (previously) is a polymath artist: YA novelist, comics writer, librettist, rock star; her latest book, Girl on Film, is an extraordinary memoir of her life in the arts, attending New York's School for the Performing Arts (AKA "The Fame School") and being raised by her parents, who are accomplished scientists.

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