Day: June 17, 2016

Home blood typing kits - family fun!


My 13-year-old daughter, a fan of all things Japanese, wanted to know her blood type. (Some people in Japan think that blood type correlates with personality types. Jane knows it’s bunkum, but it’s fun anyway.) I didn’t know her blood type, and I forgot mine. Carla didn’t know her blood type either. We didn’t have Red Cross blood donation cards, because we aren’t eligible to donate blood: Carla doesn’t weigh enough, Jane is too young, and I “lived a cumulative time of 3 months or more in the United Kingdom” back in the 1980s (I have mad cow prions ready to erupt in my brain any day now, I guess).

I looked on Amazon and, wouldn’t you know it, they sell blood typing kits! I ordered enough kits for the family. They cost about $5 each.

The kits come with everything you need: spring loaded lancet, micropipette, stirring wands, cleansing swab, and a chemically treated card to put your blood on. The card has four circles, each of which contains a different kind of serum designed to cause clotting (or not) in your blood sample.

The lancet is a little scary to use. It looks kind of like a tiny tube of Chapstick with a hole in one end. You have to press it against your finger until a spring loaded latch inside the tube releases, slamming a sharp needle into your finger. I went first. The sound it made was worse than the jab. Interestingly, the needle shoots back into the tube after it pokes your finger. What an ingenious device! Here’s a video of the same lancet that comes with the kit:

After that, we just followed the instructions for putting our blood on the cards. I have O negative blood (universal donor, but since I’m a mad cow risk, I can’t donate). Carla and Jane were both B positive. And now we know. The process was actually a lot of fun. I wish our blood type was something that changed every couple of years, so we had an excuse to do this again. Maybe we will anyway.




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Join me at Politicon 2016, 'The Coachella of Politics' —Xeni


I’m speaking at Politicon, the “Non-Partisan Politics and Entertainment Fan-Fest,” June 25-26 in Pasadena. It’s gonna be fun AND totally weird in the best way.

Sessions include an “Ann Coulter vs. Van Jones” smackdown, and Jon Ronson asking the timeless question, “Is Donald Trump a Psychopath.”

Some of the other politicians, pundits, and possible psychopaths on the schedule: Bill Nye, Sarah Palin, Larry Wilmore, Vicente Fox, James Carville, Glenn Beck. The original Daily Show cast will be in the house, too.

Holy hell, what a lineup. Join me there, and use the Boing Boing discount code BOINGBOING to get 25% off tickets.


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Trump tweets poll showing him losing to Clinton

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Earlier today Trump tweeted a May 10 poll from OAN/Gravis that showed him with a two point lead over Clinton. People called him out on it, so he tweeted the latest OAN/Gravis poll, with the comment THANK YOU!. I guess he didn’t look at it closely, because now it shows Clinton with a two point lead over Trump.

THANK YOU! #AmericaFirst

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 17, 2016

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Jellyfish: A Natural History – A luscious book about our ocean's brainless, heartless creatures


Jellyfish: A Natural History

by Lisa-ann Gershwin

University of Chicago Press

2016, 224 pages, 8.2 x 9.5 x 1 inches

$27 Buy a copy on Amazon

Five interesting facts I read in the just-released Jellyfish: A Natural History:

1. The deadly box jellyfish is the world’s most venomous animal, and its sting feels like “a splash of boiling oil, searingly hot and indescribably painful.”

2. The immortal jellyfish is just what it sounds like – its cells keep regenerating so that it forever cycles from baby to adult back to baby again.

3. Recently, jellyfish blooms – or swarms – have become denser, are covering much larger areas than ever before, and are “lasting far longer than normal,” due to climate change.

4. Jellyfish can clone themselves, but the replica is so different from the original that it ends up being classified as a separate animal.

5. The giant heart jelly can grow to 165 feet, longer than a blue whale.

And this is nothing. Every page of text in Jellyfish has facts as fascinating as these, woven into a thorough coverage of jellyfish history, biology and ecology. Author Lisa-ann Gershwin, a marine biologist who has discovered over 200 new species of jellyfish, does an excellent job of combining a compelling narrative of 50 different jellyfish with luscious, I-can’t-believe-they’re-real photos. Put this book on your coffee table with caution – you might lose your guests as they submerge themselves into a book that’s as exotic as it is absorbing.

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MIT researchers 3D print synthetic hairs


MIT Media Lab researchers developed software to design and 3D print hair-like structures in bulk. Eventually, the 3D-printed hair could be used as sensors, actuators modeled on the cilia in our own lungs, and even Velcro-like adhesives for robots and other devices.

Their innovation was actually on the software side of the 3D-printing process. From MIT News:

Instead of using conventional computer-aided design (CAD) software to draw thousands of individual hairs on a computer — a step that would take hours to compute — the team built a new software platform, called “Cilllia,” that lets users define the angle, thickness, density, and height of thousands of hairs, in just a few minutes.

Using the new software, the researchers designed arrays of hair-like structures with a resolution of 50 microns — about the width of a human hair. Playing with various dimensions, they designed and then printed arrays ranging from coarse bristles to fine fur, onto flat and also curved surfaces, using a conventional 3-D printer…

To demonstrate adhesion, the team printed arrays that act as Velcro-like bristle pads. Depending on the angle of the bristles, the pads can stick to each other with varying forces. For sensing, the researchers printed a small furry rabbit figure, equipped with LED lights that light up when a person strokes the rabbit in certain directions.
And to see whether 3-D-printed hair can help actuate, or move objects, the team fabricated a weight-sorting table made from panels of printed hair with specified angles and heights. As a small vibration source shook the panels, the hairs were able to move coins across the table, sorting them based on the coins’ weight and the vibration frequency…

“It’s very inspiring to see how these structures occur in nature and how they can achieve different functions,” says lead researcher Jifei Ou. “We’re just trying to think how can we fully utilize the potential of 3-D printing, and create new functional materials whose properties are easily tunable and controllable.”


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How many cheerios can you stack on your sleeping baby?


The Life of Dad posted a challenge: how many cheerios can you stack on your sleeping baby? It looks like 18 is the record.

A photo posted by Life of Dad (@lifeofdad) on Jun 16, 2016 at 8:32pm PDT

A photo posted by Life of Dad (@lifeofdad) on Jun 17, 2016 at 6:32am PDT

A photo posted by Lorena Ruiz (@lorena592) on Jun 16, 2016 at 9:16pm PDT

A photo posted by Joe Noack (@joenoack) on Jun 17, 2016 at 7:07am PDT

A photo posted by @tmitasha on Jun 17, 2016 at 8:26am PDT

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NBC news anchor discovers dog left in a hot car


Kyle Clark of Denver area NBC affiliate KUSA ran across a dog locked in a hot car, on a hot day. The dog’s cries led him to try and help, encountering a less than sympathetic dog owner.

Clark offers this apology, I think for not breaking the car’s window, in hopes of helping raise awareness, and help to other dogs.

It should be amazingly obvious to people that you do not leave a dog in a locked car, in the sun. The temperatures inside the car rise incredibly fast, and you can bake your dog. Leaving a water bottle, or windows cracked, really doesn’t help at all. Don’t do it!

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Super light, cheap, lossless MP3 player that drives good headphones


An audiophile pal gifted me this $22 AGPTek A02 MP3 player. It reminds me of a shrunken down version of the early Click-wheel iPods, but with higher quality audio.

The battery seems to go forever. I’ve been testing these with everything from Skull Candy, Westone, Sennheiser, and some dirt cheap $15 headphones. They do a great job of driving any and all IEMs, and a fine job of driving an old pair of Sennheiser HD-680s. The sound quality is great when compared to the iPhone 6 or the water-proofed iPod Shuffle I usually use.

The device supports MP3, WMA, FLAC, Ape and some other file formats. There is 8GB of on-board storage, and the unit’ll take a 64GB microSD card. Same ones I use in my GoPros, so there are plenty around.

The UI is simple, and direct. The buttons work. The unit is super light. The screen is tiny, but this is a single use audio player and you won’t be reading the news on it.

I checked and the forums at HeadFi don’t hate it, they have a super long discussion around this device and its brethren. Even if you spend an extra $3 to get the black cased version, I don’t see how you can go too far wrong.

[2016 New UI] AGPtEK A02 8GB 70 Hours Playback MP3 Lossless Sound Music Player (Supports Up To 64GB), Blue via Amazon

AGPtEK [2016 NEW UI] A02 8GB & 70 Hours Playback MP3 Lossless Sound Music Player (Supports up to 64GB), Black via Amazon

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McCain says Obama is "directly responsible" for mass shooting in Orlando

Image: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

What happened to John McCain? He used to be a run-of-the-mill sleazy politician that even some Democrats could think of as being somewhat reasonable, but over the years he has slowly sunk to the level of the unhinged mouth-foaming carpet-chewers of the dying Republican party. It’s been a sad thing to watch. On Thursday McCain accused Obama of being “directly responsible” for the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.


“Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaida went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures, utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq,” a visibly angry McCain said as the Senate debated a spending bill.

The gunman, Omar Mateen, killed 49 people and injured more than 50 in the attack at a gay nightclub. The 29-year-old Muslim born in New York made calls during the attack saying he was a supporter of the Islamic State. But he also spoke about an affiliate of al-Qaida and Hezbollah, both of which are IS enemies.

McCain later “clarified” that he doesn’t think Obama was “personally responsible” for the deaths of 49 people in Orlando, it was “Obama’s national security decisions” that killed them.

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Polls not looking good for Trump after Orlando


Despite a couple of recent outliers, Donald Trump’s polling is grim: 94% unfavorability among black voters being one new number doing the rounds. It’s so dire, in fact, Hillary appears set to win in a landslide despite her own shortcomings. Jeet Heer:

Trump’s manic, narcissistic, and immature response to the Orlando massacre has been a key turning point—or, looked at another way, a final straw. Just as Republican elites were learning to live with Trump, so long as he kept his promise to act more “presidential,” he’s now made it clear that he’ll continue to be the same old Trump the world has known for decades. The result is that elected Republican officials are starting to un-endorse Trump or say they won’t back his presidential bid. Republican governors in Maryland, Michigan, and Massachusetts have all said they won’t vote for Trump.

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The Moscow Puzzles, Russia's most popular puzzle book


Published in 1956, this fantastic collection of mathematical mind-benders never gets old!

From simple riddles to complex story problems, The Moscow Puzzles has something for everyone. The sketches are wonderful, and some of the problems give you a cute glimpse into mid-20th Century Russian life.

The book is available via Kindle, in paperback, or free PDF.

The Moscow Puzzles: 359 Mathematical Recreations (Dover Recreational Math) via Amazon

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Brave the elements with the Bomber Barrel Duffel Bag - The most funded bag in Kickstarter history


Luggage is fine…but having the right duffel? That’s key. If you’re on the go, the portability, durability and versatility of slinging a good ol’ duffel over your shoulder can’t be beaten.

There’s a reason the Bomber Barrel Duffel Bag was Kickstarter’s most funded bag ever. Find out for yourself with a Complete Bomber Barrel Duffel Bag Set, on sale now for just $59.99 (70% off) in the Boing Boing Store.


The lightweight design sports weather-resistant material, waterproof zippers, military-grade clips, and rivet-reinforced carry handles. It’ll take everything the world throws at it…and come back for more.

Its design features inner and outer pockets for securing both big and small essentials, as well as a padded quick release shoulder strap. Plus, the bag comes with an accompanying travel kit for shorter excursions.

Own a duffel as reliable as it is functional for a whopping 70% off its retail price while this deal lasts.

And while you’re at it, enter to win an absolutely free Macbook to go inside your snazzy new duffel. Act fast for your chance at a premium laptop worth almost $1,300 (you know you want to).

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Wisconsin Congresswoman: mandatory drug tests for anyone claiming $150K in itemized tax-deductions


After Governor Scott Walker [R-WI] and Congressman Paul Ryan [R-WI] both proposed expanding drug-testing for poor people on benefits, Congresswoman Gwen Moore [D-WI] introduced legislation requiring urine samples from anyone claiming over $150,000 in itemized tax-deductions — households with gross incomes of about $1M.

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Your cable operator is spying on you and selling the data from your set-top box

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As the fight over the FCC’s Unlock the Box plan heats up, the cable and satellite TV companies have pulled out all the stops in a bid to force you to continue spending more than $200/year to rent an insecure, power-hungry, badly designed set-top box, rather than introducing competition by letting you buy your cable-box on the open market.

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Oakland mayor denies firing police chief over officers who statutorily raped teen sex-worker


According to Mayor Libby Schaaf, Police Chief Sean Whent resigned for “personal reasons,” and not because of a report in the East Bay Express that revealed that at least 14 of his officers (along with 4 Alameda County sheriff’s deputies and a federal officer) trafficked and had sex with a prostitute who was underage when the trafficking began.

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