Day: June 23, 2016

Science-inspired lamps: Large Hadron Collider and James Webb Space Telescope

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Designer Art Donovan writes, “I’m always looking for new and unique inspiration for my lighting commissions and the latest, cutting edge scientific devices offer a boatload of great design inspiration. From the cool, new ‘James Webb Space Telescope’ to the myriad of complex details in the L.H.P.C. at Cern- it’s a cornucopia of rich imagery.”
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You could own Banksy's SWAT Van

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Banksy’s iconic SWAT Van artwork goes up for auction at Bonhams next week. The piece first appeared in Banksy’s infamous 2006 Los Angeles show Barely Legal. The hammer price is expected to hit US$300,000 – $450,000. From Bonhams:

Banksy’s classic response to fear and tyranny is laughter and in the case of the present work the artist toys with his anti-establishment persona, ridiculing the police not just by depicting a scene in which heavily armed, faceless Special Forces agents are hoodwinked by a small boy but by doing so on the very apparatus of their strength. Banksy’s best works combine vicious black humour with a clarity of message that many of the best advertisers would kill for and a rage that simply will not be ignored. His playfulness is the velvet glove that hides the iron fist of a social conscience honed on the streets of Bristol and which found its apotheosis in his breakout show Barely Legal in Los Angeles in 2006…

The present work was acquired directly from this exhibition and has remained in the same magnificent collection ever since, coming to the open market now for the first time. Despite the nature of the sculpture the condition is excellent and testament to the care with which the artist approaches even his most challenging works. This is a work that by the artist’s own admission was first shown in a ‘vandalised warehouse extravaganza’ and yet it is worthy of any museum collection in the world.

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Jury rules that Led Zeppelin did not steal "Stairway to Heaven"

A federal jury in Los Angeles has just ruled that Led Zeppelin did not swipe the opening to “Stairway to Heaven” from the Spirit song “Taurus.” From the New York Times:

Mr. Plant and Mr. Page both testified that “Stairway to Heaven” had been composed independently, and that while both bands had played on the same bill a handful of times, they did not recall ever seeing Spirit perform and had no familiarity with “Taurus” until the lawsuit was brought.

“I didn’t remember it then, and I don’t remember it now,” Mr. Plant said.

The jury found that, although Mr. Page and Mr. Plant had access to “Taurus” before the release of “Stairway to Heaven,” the two songs’ original elements did not contain enough similarities. Before reaching the verdict on Thursday, the jury asked to listen to audio recordings of the introductions to both songs twice.

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Lavish new New Order singles vinyl box on its way

On September 9, New Order will reissue their career-spanning Singles compilation as a remastered four-LP 180 gram vinyl box set or double CD set priced at $70 for the former and $20 for the latter. Tell me now how should I feel. From Rhino:

A decade after its initial release, SINGLES has been refined to become a greatly improved representation of the band’s history. The renowned Frank Arkwright (The Smiths’ Complete) at Abbey Road has remastered the collection with all audio sourced from high quality transfers.

In addition, SINGLES adds “I’ll Stay With You” from 2013’s Lost Sirens album and replaces the correct single edits or mixes for the tracks “Nineteen63,” “Run 2,” “Bizarre Love Triangle,” “True Faith,” “Spooky,” “Confusion” and “The Perfect Kiss.” The result is a considerable upgrade on the previous version of the album.

Video above, “True Faith” (1987). Below, “Ceremony” (1981), the song that bridged the end of Joy Division after Ian Curtis’s death and the birth of New Order.

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Fingerling Potatoes with Herb Vinaigrette

Fingerling Potatoes with Herb Vinaigrette

Why should russets and yukon golds have all the fun? Here’s a quick and easy potato recipe, for a side or salad, depending on if you serve them warm or cold, using fingerling potatoes or new potatoes.

The approach is simple—quickly boil halved fingerling potatoes and douse them in vinaigrette.

But that’s not all. Two simple tricks will elevate this dish to make it company worthy.

Continue reading “Fingerling Potatoes with Herb Vinaigrette” »

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Watch a fantastic documentary about psych pioneer Roky Erickson of

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Roky Erickson is the founder of pioneering Texan psychedelic band the 13th Floor Elevators, an outfit that emerged in mid-1960s from Austin’s underground scene and influenced bands ranging from ZZ Top and Primal Scream to The Flaming Lips and Queens of the Stone Age. Erickson suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and, after a marijuana bust, spent years in mental institutions, undergoing electroshock therapy and other “treatments.” After, he spent many years as a recluse and lived in poverty. His story is beautiful, sad, inspiring, and weird. Follow the trip in Keven McAlester’s excellent 2005 documentary You’re Gonna Miss Me above, named for one of the band’s greatest tunes that you can check out below:

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Sigmund the Sea Monster to return

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Sid and Marty Krofft, two of the finest creators of television content of all time, are returning their epic hero Sigmund the Seamonster to the screen.

Via Entertainment Weekly:

Although the delivery method has changed, the story hews close to the original — two young brothers befriend a kindhearted sea monster and help him hide out — and the Kroffts’ time-tested approach remains intact.

“When it comes to content, we find out that it’s the same,” Marty, 79, said in an interview with EW. “You have to have great characters, great stories. It makes no difference whether it’s digital, network, Nickelodeon.” (The latter channel is home to the Krofft-produced series Mutt & Stuff.)

“We kept the integrity of the show,” Marty continued. “We didn’t want to piss off all of our fans that have grown up to be about 38 to 40, and who can still sing the theme song.”

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The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, The Vampire Accountant

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Fantastic photographer Star Foreman recommended this wonderful series of vampire novels to me! I liked them so much, I asked her to write us review!

“IF you have never been fortunate enough to see a look of utter surprise race across a werewolf
face, I highly recommend you do so”- Fred

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, The Vampire Accountant by Drew Hayes is one of my favorite books of all time. The truly awesome Drew Hayes has once again delivered a fun, sweet, interesting set of protagonists who turn the expectations of the genre on its ear.

This book has plenty of surprises! I know that naming the types of creatures we meet could dull the charms of Fred for a first time reader. So here is a short, non spoiler synopsis.

Fred lived a boring life until one day Fred woke up dead. Even then his life didn’t change much beyond his allergic reaction to sunlight and his use of a bit of creative accounting (cooking the books for a local hospital) in exchange for blood. A year after his heart stopped beating Fred was still an accountant, still had no friends, and generally (un)life wasn’t any different then life.

Life was terribly uninteresting, until Fred, trying to do something different, went to his ten year high school reunion and his life changed (for the better).

Drew Hayes write’s Fred’s tale in diary format (something that I usually loath, but in this case it works) allowing us the great pleasure of enjoying Fred’s delightfully intelligent and slightly self-deprecating narration. Throughout the entire book Fred comes to realize that he is interesting, and fun, and can have friends, and even maybe a drop dead gorgeous girlfriend. By the way, Fred appreciates his girlfriend, they compromise and do things to make the other one happy, and directly ask one another questions. Rather than having a stupid misunderstanding drive the book’s plot forward, Hayes instead writes Fred’s tale with life moving the plot forward. Also, thank Ganesh, no explicit sex scenes; when Fred has sex he says in his diary he had sex, and that is it. He knows we don’t want to read the details, so he doesn’t share them.

“I had always tried to be eco-conscious, but realizing I could actually live to be affected by environmental disasters had doubled my efforts”- Fred

Each of the 5 short stories introduces you to one of Fred’s new companions. Each of the short stories is great. My favorite story is A Vampire at the Reunion, but all of the stories are delightfully fun.

Drew Hayes, like in his other series NPC’s and SuperPowered’s, has taken an old tired genre and made an actually great, original book that is truly enjoyable.

I highly recommend this book, and its sequel (Death and Untaxes) to anyone, anywhere, and any age (above the age of 10.)

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew Hayes via Amazon

Previously on Boing Boing:

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KFC's new meal box with a built-in battery to charge mobile devices

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KFC’s new “Watt a Box” is a meal box with a built-in battery, micro-USB, and lightning cables to charge your smartphone. It’s available as a special limited edition “prize” for customers at KFC stores in Delhi and Mumbai. BGR reviewed the Watt a Box. It’s a fun marketing gimmick but, no surprise, the battery kinda sucks. They claim it’s a 6,100mAh power bank but perhaps a better approach (and name) would have been a Bucket of Batteries. From BGR:

The power bank claims to have a 6,100mAh battery but the claims fell short during our brief test. We put an iPhone 5s to charge, which gained 17 percent battery after charging for half-an-hour. But the downside was that the power bank was drained during this process. We recharged the power bank to 100 percent and tried to charge a Redmi Note 3. But the power bank ran out of juice again with the phone gaining just 7 percent of charge…

KFC is not the only one to toy with such marketing campaigns. Pizza Hut came up with a limited edition box in Hong Kong that converted into a projector for smartphones. McDonald’s had launched a special edition of its Happy Meal boxes in Sweden that could be converted into cardboard VR headsets. Coca Cola too had a similar cardboard VR headset one could make from its 12-pack cartons.

Hands-on with KFC’s ‘Watt a Box’ that charges your phone while you eat(via Laughing Squid)

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Iceland soccer commentator finds team's performance satisfactory

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His name is Gummi Ben. The BBC reports on a remarkable day for the 330,000-strong island nation.

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Gummi Ben, who became a commentator after hanging up his boots in 2009, has been fending calls off all day.

“It’s been quite strange and actually hectic, because the phone hasn’t stopped ringing,” he told the BBC.

“But I’m really enjoying it! It’s part of the job.”

Translation: “*screams*. My voice is gone, but it doesn’t matter. We have come forward, in this tournament, and never, not once have I ever felt so good”

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In the robot future, only cars will drive

A Google self-driving vehicle. Photo: Reuters

Here’s something to fear about self-driving cars! Once they’re up and running and insurance companies and legislators realize they’re much better at it than humans, you won’t even be allowed to drive. Also, the infrastructure is decaying badly and there’s no political will to face up to the costs of fixing it, so the roads themselves may end up getting effectively sold off.

Public-private partnerships for roads might begin the erosion of the public right of way. But it’s also possible that autonomous vehicles will all but require limited access to public roads to operate effectively.

Today’s self-driving cars have to be designed and programmed to interact with messy circumstances. Pedestrians, dogs, bicycles, human-driven vehicles, and other obstacles all pose challenges to robocars, and if autonomous vehicles are even modestly successful, avoiding collisions with fallible human drivers will prove a temporary problem. … The more self-driving cars there are on the roads, the less complex and more predictable the overall behavior of traffic becomes.

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Awesome bento lunch jars

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I’m pretty excited about these super convenient bento-style lunch jars.

I was acting as a volunteer chaperone on my daughter’s 3rd grade field trip to the sewage treatment plant, when I saw this most wonderful lunch box. All the eager learners had gathered on the foul smelling lawn, and were extracting their various meals from the usual selection of tupperware, brown paper, and pop culture lunch boxes when I saw a future world leader with her Zujiroshi Ms. Bento lunch jar.

Oh, what a dream! Two large food storage containers fit snugly inside an insulated thermos. The containers are microwave safe, the lids screw down and keep food, and liquids in. You can wash them in the dish washer, if you like.

The insulated jar is great. I hate having to predict tomorrows lunch for my daughter, and then making sure I have the right freezer packs, or insulating sleeves available to keep the food at the right temperature for her highness. With this 2 compartment system, the food will hold its temperature for hours, 6 says the marketing. Know thee well that the temperature will equalize between the two compartments inside the single insulated jar. Do not expect stew to stay hot, and ice cream to stay cold. There is, however, a model for that (kind of.)

Clean up is simple. Generally, you can just wash the containers out in the sink and set them to dry, but if you wish they can also take a spin in the dishwasher. The jar you can just rinse off.

The 2 compartment set up is perfect for a grade or middle schooler’s backpack. If you feel the need for more compartment, you can buy a larger jar. The 4 compartment Mr. Bento with insulating divider, looks good but I’m eyeing the Classic Bento for hiking day trips, it seems plenty large for Nemo and I.

Two Compartment Zojirushi Ms.Bento Stainless Lunch Jar, Aqua Blue, via Amazon

Three Compartment Zojirushi Classic Bento Vacuum Lunch Jar, via Amazon

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Texas judge orders prison to provide inmates with safe drinking water

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Texas’s prison system must provide safe drinking water to its inmates, a judge in Houston federal court ruled Thursday.

The Associated Press reports on a case that saw Texas fight all the way to court to continue supplying arsenic-laden water to prisoners— a position U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison wrote violates “contemporary standards of decency.”

In his 15-page ruling, Ellison wrote the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has been “deliberately indifferent” to the ongoing risk inmates at the unit face from prolonged exposure to “extreme heat” and from having to drink arsenic-laden water in order to reduce the risk from the heat. The drinking water at the Pack Unit has contained between 2 and 4½ times the amount of arsenic permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency, the judge said.

The prisoners have “demonstrated that (the prison system’s) current and ongoing conduct violates contemporary standards of decency,” Ellison wrote.

At least 20 prisoners have died indoors in non-air-conditioned Texas prisons from overheating since 1998, including 10 who died in 2011, Ellison said.

Other than fixing the tainted water, the prisoners asked for temperatures in the Wallace Pack Unit to be lowered to 88°F. See the aerial photo above: suburban Houston is hot, but it is not a desert.

American prisons are hell: violent rape camps operated by the depraved and indifferent, many of them private corporations. And these prisons are in Texas.

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After Dinner Games – 40 ice-breaking games to rev up your next dinner party

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

After Dinner Games: 40 of the Greatest After Dinner Games

by Jenny Lynch (editor)

Lagoon Books

1998, 96 pages, 4.8 x 6 x 0.5 inches

$1-$8 Buy a copy on Amazon

This pocket-sized book is for that time when things get awkward. That time when conversation has dried up. When you have new friends over for dinner and you’re stuck sitting there, clearing your throat, having used up all of your conversation starters. That’s when you need a book like this.

As the tagline explains, After Dinner Games offers 40 of the best games for these post-dinner situations. It’s great to either break the ice or to break out with old friends!
For example, if you really want to get personal with your guests, try the game Head To Head, which is when two players carry an orange placed between their foreheads. But if acquaintances are involved, you could start with the game Botticelli. Essentially, one player thinks of a famous person (dead or alive), announces the first letter of their name, and everyone else tries to guess who it is. Safe, fun, and no moving involved.

This book is packed with old-fashioned graphics that make you want to drink an Old Fashioned while playing the games. And the simple explanations of the rules allow a smooth transition from dinner to fun. To avoid a dinner party drought, keep this book handy. Not only will the ideas in this book keep your party alive, they will make it thrive. Calling all dinner partiers, this is your book!

– Caleb Murphy

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People are watching TV at 160% speed to fit in all their shows

Image: Dani Johnson, Amy King / The Washington Post

Jeff Guo of Washington Post’s Wonkblog says he watches all his television shows at 160% speed. Above a clip from ABC’s Modern Family sped up the way Guo views it.

For years, podcast and audiobook players have provided speedup options, and research shows that most people prefer listening to accelerated speech.

In recent years, software has made it much easier to perform the same operation on videos. This was impossible for home viewers in the age of VHS. But computers can now easily speed up any video you throw at them. You can play DVDs and iTunes purchases at whatever tempo you like. YouTube allows you select a speedup factor on its player. And a Google engineer has written a popular Chrome extension that accelerates most other Web videos, including on Netflix, Vimeo and Amazon Prime.

Over 100,000 people have downloaded that plug-in, and the reviews are ecstatic. “Oh my God! I regret all the wasted time I’ve lived before finding this gem!!” one user wrote.

Image: Dani Johnson, Amy King / The Washington Post

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Why are people fleeing California? Rising housing costs, taxes

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California experienced a “net outward migration” of 61,100 people in the last twelve months, the biggest exodus since 2011.

San Jose Mercury News:

The region’s soaring housing prices are a key factor driving dissatisfied residents toward the exit door. Several people who have departed, or soon will leave, say they potentially could have hundreds of thousands of dollars left over even after buying a house in their new locations.

“They’re taking advantage of the housing bubble right now,” McElfresh said. “The majority of the people we are seeing are moving to states that don’t have state income taxes.”

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Boston Dynamics shows new quadruped robots, including one with a head

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Creepy/cool robot shop Boston Dynamics introduced the new SpotMini, a 55 pound robot that seems perfect for indoor use.

YouTube description:

SpotMini is a new smaller version of the Spot robot that weighs 55 lbs dripping wet (65 lbs if you include its arm.) SpotMini is all-electric (no hydraulics) and runs for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing. SpotMini is one of the quietest robots we have ever built. It has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs. These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation. SpotMini performs some tasks autonomously, but often uses a human for high-level guidance

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Google is restructuring to put machine learning at the core of all it does

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Steven Levy is in characteristic excellent form in a long piece on Medium about the internal vogue for machine learning at Google; drawing on the contacts he made with In the Plex, his must-read 2012 biography of the company, Levy paints a picture of a company that’s being utterly remade around newly ascendant machine learning techniques.
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Utah police employ "porn-sniffing" dog

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A 16-month-old black labrador named URL has been trained to sniff out electronic storage devices for the Weber County Sheriff’s Office in Utah.

From Fox 13 Salt Lake:

URL is specifically trained to sniff out electronic storage devices such as thumb drives, cellphones, SIM cards, SD cards, external hard drives, tablets and iPads.

“Whether it’s child porn, or terrorism intelligence, narcotics or financial crimes information, URL has the ability to find evidence hidden on basically any electronic memory device,” the release states.

Authorities say URL will assist investigators on these specific cases and will also be used at the Weber County Jail to locate contraband, such as cellphones.

“URL does not actually search for illegal materials, but rather his highly sensitive nose has been trained to detect the unique chemical compounds found in the certain electronic components,” the release states.

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Man who killed man he believed was a chicken is released

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In 2004 Harvey Derrick Glanton mistook Daniel B. Balbaugh for a chicken, and killed him by crushing his skull with a cast-iron pot lid. At trial, Glanton was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

On Tuesday, Chesterfield County Circuit Judge Herbert C. Gill Jr. “set Glanton free from his oversight and the supervision of mental health workers with the Chesterfield County Community Services Board,” reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

According to evidence presented at his trial, Glanton, then a forklift driver from Atlanta, was convinced he had to get to Washington to warn the government that aliens were taking over the world by converting people to chickens….

At Glanton’s 2004 trial, psychologist Evan S. Nelson testified that Glanton believed Balbaugh was a chicken when he encountered Balbaugh outside the victim’s mobile home at the James River Marina.

Nelson explained that Glanton lost an eye in a fight about 25 years earlier and developed the delusion that the eye had magical powers that protected him from aliens who were taking over the world by converting people to chickens.

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Freddie Gray case: Officer Caesar Goodson not guilty on all charges

Officer Caesar Goodson arrives at the courthouse in Baltimore, June 23, 2016.  REUTERS

Caesar Goodson, the Baltimore Police van driver accused of giving a violent “rough ride” that broke Freddie Gray’s neck and killed him was acquitted of all charges Thursday by Circuit Judge Barry Williams. Goodson was the driver of the van in which Gray died, and faced the most serious charges of the 6 cops accused in Gray’s death while in police custody.

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Big sound, low price: G-BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Boombox is 20% off

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Bluetooth speakers may be convenient to use, but many of them just aren’t that powerful. Sure, it may be fine if you’re seated in front of the speaker. But move across the room, and you may strain to hear what’s coming from those tiny drivers.

There’s a reason why the G-BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Boombox (now $79.99 in the Boing Boing Store) was named an iLounge Speaker of the Year – and that’s because this rechargeable box definitely brings the boom.

Sync it to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth and the G-BOOM pumps out big sound from its 2.2-inch configuration. On top of that, the unit sports features normally found in pricier models: bass modulation, a pair of rear-firing bass ports, MAXX AUDIO digital sound processing and up to six hours of play on a single charge.

At 20% off, find out why experts are talking about the G-BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Boombox — before this deal runs out.

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