Send Pics: ripping, brutal, amazing novel about teens, sextortion, revenge and justice

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.

Comparing a $9 knife sharpener with a $900 version

The host of Project Farm compared the results of using a bunch of different knife sharpeners ranging in cost from nine dollars to $900. It turned out that the $9 sharpener was pretty good. His favorite was the Lansky sharpener, which costs about $45.

From the YouTube description:

Knife sharpeners tested: Lansky, Wicked Edge Gen 3 Pro, Spyderco, Fiskars, Rada, Chef's Choice Trizor Edge, Model 15XV, Edge Pro Apex, and a Whetstone. Knives used for testing: Mercer Culinary Millennia 8-Inch Chef's Knife, which were dulled, then sharpened using each knife sharpener. Stropping leather used on knives sharpened with Lansky, Wicked Edge, Spyderco, Edge Pro Apex and Whetstone. Once sharp, knives were tested using a knife sharpness tester.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Two fun Little Archie comic book stories

Love and Rockets' creators Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez have mentioned in interviews that they loved Little Archie comic books when they were growing up. Little Archie was started in the 1950s and stars the characters from Archie comics as little kids. The earlier stories were written and drawn by Bob Bolling, and they're regarded by people who know and love comic books as some of the best stories in comic book history.

The Big Blog of Kids' Comics has two excellent Little Archie stories. Mykal Banta, who runs the blog, says:

Bob Bolling has that rare gift few cartoonists have -- his character design is just funny on sight. Howie Post (of Harvey fame) and Milt Gross had it, as does modern animation master, John Kricfalusi. It's a quality that can't be taught. Throw great scripting and wonderful layouts into the bargain, and you have classic stuff. Last time I checked, Mr. Bolling was still turning out high-caliber Little Archie stories for Archie Comics! These two Bolling stories come from Little Archie No. 3 (Summer 1957).

Read the stories here.

If you like these stories and want more, I recommend The Adventures Of Little Archie Volume 1 and Volume 2 Read the rest

How does a $40 Yeti bucket stand up against a $2 hardware store version?

A white plastic bucket manufactured by Yeti cost $40. If you want a lid you will pay an additional $30. That $70 for a bucket and a lid if my math is correct. On the other hand, you can buy a standard white plastic bucket with lid at a hardware store for a couple of dollars. This video compares the functionality of the two buckets. Which one do you think will turn out to be the better bucket? Read the rest

Abolish Silicon Valley: memoir of a driven startup founder who became an anti-capitalist activist

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.

How to draw robots - excellent instructional book

I frequently refer to my copy of Robots! Draw Your Own Androids, Cyborgs & Fighting Bots, by well known animation designer and comic book cartoonist Jay Stephens. It's only 64 pages, but it's packed with tips and examples of whimsical robots, with lots of examples of limbs, bodies, heads, control panels, sensors, etc.

Stephens has two similar books: Monsters!: Draw Your Own Mutants, Freaks & Creeps and Heroes!: Draw Your Own Superheroes, Gadget Geeks & Other Do-Gooders. I have all three. Read the rest

Recommended reading: The Forgery of Venus, by Michael Gruber

Michael Gruber's The Forgery of Venus combines art history, criminal mischief, and the sleaziness of the contemporary art gallery business to deliver a terrifically fun thriller-esque novel.

The main character, Chaz Wilmot, is an extremely talented but frustrated and depressed magazine illustrator. For no special reason, he volunteers as a human guinea pig in a medical research study to test the effects of Salvia divinorum, a powerful, short-duration psychedelic drug that causes him to imagine he's living the life of Velásquez, the famous 17th century Spanish painter. These episodes cause all sorts of problems in his real life, and when he wakes up one morning in a strange apartment and discovers that he is actually a successful gallery artist, he flips out and lands in a mental ward.

When he's released (and learns that he's back to being the hack illustrator he started out as) Wilmot is eager to clear his head by taking on a lucrative commission to restore the fresco on the ceiling of an Italian mobster's palazzo. Here, he meets a sleazy German art dealer who specializes in paintings plundered by the Nazis in World War II. The dealer gives him an offer he can't refuse: to forge an "undiscovered" Velásquez painting. When he accepts, the strange events that have been happening to him intensify, and he finds himself wonder whether he's completely crazy or if powerful characters behind the curtain are pulling strings.

This is the kind of book that could easily become ludicrous and boring if it had been written by an author less talented than Gruber. Read the rest

The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe

We've covered Theodore Gray on Boing Boing a lot, and for good reason -- he's amazing. His Mad Science book was filled with spectacularly fun science experiments, he built a Periodic Table table with little compartments to hold samples of elements, and now he has a new coffee table photo book called The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe.

Each element is treated to a gorgeous two page spread, with photos and a fascinating short history.

Did you know:

... if you keep your household smoke detector around for a couple of thousand years, most of the americium will have decayed into neptunium (wait another 30 million years or so and it will become thallium, which the CIA can use to make Castro's beard fall out, if he's still alive)

... if you touch tellurium you will smell like rotten garlic for a few weeks?

... arsenic is commonly added to chicken feed (to promote their growth)?

... a chunk of gallium will melt in your hand (you can buy a sample here)?

... a speck of scandium ("the first of the elements you've never heard of") added to aluminum creates a very strong alloy (like the kind used in the Louisville Slugger that was involved in a lawsuit)?

Books that reveal how truly weird our world is are always welcome in my home. This one's a gem. Read the rest

Snowden's Box: the incredible, illuminating story of the journey of Snowden's hard drive

Dale Maharidge is a journalist and J-school professor who is dear old friends with the muckracking, outstanding political documentarian Laura Poitras. Jessica Bruder (previously) is a a writer and J-school prof who's best friends with Maharidge. When Laura Poitras was contacted by an NSA whistleblower who wanted to send her the leak of the century, she asked Maharidge for help finding a safe address for a postal delivery, and Maharidge gave her Bruder's Brooklyn apartment address. A few weeks later, Bruder came home from a work-trip to discover a box on her doormat with the return address of "B. Manning, 94-1054 Eleu St, Waipau, HI 96797." In it was a hard-drive. The story of what happened next is documented in a beautifully written, gripping new book: Snowden's Box: Trust in the Age of Surveillance.

Gorilla Rack shelving units are awesome

10 years ago we decluttered our garage and Carla bought several Gorilla Rack shelving units from Amazon. They are awesome. I've assembled shelving units before, and they required either nuts and bolts or little brackets, but the Gorilla Rack units have parts that fit together without extra hardware. I built the first shelving unit in about 30 minutes. The second one took me 15 minutes, and the third one was done in 10 minutes. The pieces fit together without any fussing and the unit is free of sharp edges. It's very sturdy, too. Read the rest

Exhaustive reviews of ceiling fans

I'm considering buying the Oxygen Solis [Amazon], a tactical EDC ceiling fan, and chanced across the YouTube channel Vintage Fans and More looking for opinions. It's a large collection of surprisingly informative reviews of ceiling fans, visits to fan manufacturers and ceiling fan trade shows, etc., and the creator is up-front about his connections to the trade.

He even has the perfect hairstyle for illustrating turbulent air vortices.

Vintage Fans & More is a unique place where past and present meet, and where the future is awaited with great anticipation. What began on YouTube as a preservation of yesteryear’s electric fans has grown to encompass not only fans from every era, but also other areas of lighting design and home decor. Expect an unexpected variety; this is a new expansion for VF&M in the greater world of design, spanning decades and bringing them together in one place.

Read the rest

A good solar powered LED illuminated street address sign

I bought this solar powered LED illuminated street address sign earlier this month and am really happy with it. The light is is bright and makes it easy for people to find our house. It comes with several sheets of adhesive numbers that you stick onto a white plastic panel. It also comes with mounting screws, but I attached it to the side of a metal mailbox so I used outdoor mounting tape instead. My address has five numbers and I had no problem fitting them on the panel, using the included cardboard placement template.

I paid full price for it, but the seller has a code 5UZYEDUV to let you buy it at a good discount. Read the rest

Extend your Wi-Fi with powerline networking

I’ve tried many ways to extend Wi-Fi through my house. Powerline networking, which creates networks through electrical wiring, works the best for me. TP-Link has this kit with 2 units. One unit plugs into your wall outlet and router. The other unit can be plugged into any wall outlet in your house to provide Wi-Fi in that area. I've had great results with it.

Read the rest

Good deal on an excellent cat scratching post

We have three cats. We bought this large heavy duty scratching post in December 2015 and all three cats used it countless times throughout the day. By February 2018 it was pretty thrashed so we bought a replacement. They never get tired of using it. They also like to jump onto the little platform at the top to survey the room. We bought a second one for the upstairs. Highly recommended. Read the rest

Excellent low-cost brush pens for art and calligraphy

Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens come in a 2-pack for [amazon_link asins='B01M71S9DU' template='PriceLink' store='boingboing' marketplace='US' link_id='1909c73f-5c54-4920-9b9a-77ccce854b7e'] on Amazon. They look like pens, but instead of a nib they have a brush, which allows you to draw lines of varying widths. They’re a lot of fun to use. Read the rest

I reviewed William Gibson's novel "Agency" for today's LA Times

My latest LA Times review is for William Gibson's new novel Agency, sequel to his outstanding 2014 novel "The Peripheral," which marked his return to explicitly futuristic science fiction after his amazing and audacious "Pattern Recognition" novels, which treated the recent past as though it was a speculative future setting. Read the rest

Year of the Rabbit: a graphic novel memoir of one family's life under the Khmer Rouge

In 1975, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia after expelling a US puppet regime, surviving a brutal US bombing campaign despite the massive asymmetry between the Cambodian forces and the US military. Tian Veasna was born three days after the Khmer Rouge took power, and spent his formative years in forced labor camps as his family were beaten, starved, tortured and murdered. Today, Veasna is a comics creator living in France, and in Year of the Rabbit, Veasna creates a coherent story out of his family's narratives, giving us a ground-level view of the horrors of the Pol Pot regime, whose campaign of genocide led to the deaths of more than a million people.

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