Day: September 19, 2016

Inflatable travel pillow for sleeping on planes


I spent a few days in beautiful Victoria, Canada last week. What a fantastic city! One of the highlights of my trip was spending some time with Andrew and Christina, two of the principles at Robazzo, a one-stop-shop eco design studio. They do everything from logos to large architectural installations:


On the flight home, the guy sitting next to me had a small pouch in his lap. Before the plane took off, he unfolded it and blew on a valve a few times to inflate what turned out to be a travel pillow. He slept the entire time. I have a travel pillow, but it is bulky so I don’t usually bring it with me. This inflatable pillow looks perfect. After looking around I think I found the one the guy was using. It’s $6 if you use coupon code QZJWYQLF. I bought two (one for my wife), and the discount worked for just one pillow.

…read more

Be future Marty McFly this halloween


One of the wackiest, most fun movie predictions of the future came from Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future Part II. The film took 80s trends and cast them forward perfectly! I’ve often felt ripped off that Marty McFly’s polychromatic hat and awesome light up sneakers were never part of every day fashion.

While the wild predictions about 80s fashion permutations have yet to arrive, it is easy to go as Marty this year! Sadly the automatic jacket doesn’t automatically adjust to fit, and the hoverboard doesn’t hover, but this costumery does look great. I just love the dorky hat, I remember hating it as a kid!


I would rather have Marty’s Gibson ES-345.

Back to the Future 2 Jacket / Marty McFly 2015 costumevia Amazon

Back to the Future: Part II: Marty McFly Cap Replicavia Amazon

Back to the Future 2 Light Up Shoes via Amazon

Back to the Future Hoverboard – ST via Amazon

…read more

Destiny: Rise of Iron launches tomorrow


September 20th, at 2amPST, Bungie’s year three update for Destiny, their massively multiplayer FPS, Rise of Iron goes live!

Sporting some of the best FPS game play ever, and a huge online following, Destiny is seeing some major changes in Year 3. Private match-making in custom games is probably the most anticipated, and longly awaited community feature. Destiny: Rise of Iron appears to become a fantastic tournament platform!

A new story mode focusing on the Iron Lords, a legendary band of near extinct Guardians will provide ample opportunity for Bungie to confuse the incredibly disjointed backstory even more, but will likely be AWESOME. It appears Destiny is headed back to a Close-Quaters-Combat meta and the new adventures and weapons will encourage that.

Fans are super excited! There’ve been lots of community made videos made, eagerly anticipating the launch, but none as much fun as “Rise Up!” by Crucible Radio’s Bones. If you play Destiny, the Crucible Radio podcast is a must!

…read more

Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe

by Tim Leong

Chronicle Books

2013, 196 pages, 7.4 x 9.4 x 0.6 inches (softcover)

$20 Buy a copy on Amazon

How has Superman‘s logo changed shape since it was first created in 1938? How long do comic book characters tend to stay dead? How do the populations of fictional cities compare to New York City or London? Tim Leong’s Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe uses bright maps, word webs, graphs, and flowcharts to answer questions like these and illustrate correlations among different comic book characters. Most of his information comes from the usual Marvel and DC superhero comic books, but he also analyzes information from such classics as Tin-Tin, Peanuts, and Archie comics.

The smartest graphs show Leong’s skill for bringing together information into succinct visuals, such as the charts showing that superheroes tend to wear primary colors while supervillains tend to wear secondary colors. Other spreads draw information from the comic book business or affiliated merchandise. For example, some infographics discuss which demographics reads comic books, which characters won most often in Marvel Universe Trading Card Series, and which comic book writers are the most prolific. Still other pages use the graphs to make sight-gags without providing any insight or trivia. These pages, such as the graph entitled “A Personal History of Saying ‘Good Grief’” which is drawn as the pattern on Charlie Brown’s shirt, are briefly amusing but not the pages to study. Instead, take your time exploring Scrooge McDuck’s family tree, the character web of Sin City, and the pie charts of every weird pizza the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have eaten. You never know when that information might be useful.

– Megan Hippler

…read more

Short documentary about the evolution of Photoshop

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 11.14.51 AM

I’m much more comfortable with Adobe Illustrator than Photoshop, but I enjoyed this short video about Photoshop users talking about the powerful image editing application.

For over two decades, Photoshop has been an essential part of the digital artist’s toolset. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, we’ve taken a look back at Photoshop’s history: from the rise of desktop publishing and digital photography, to the evolution of Photoshop’s tool palette and its sometimes controversial but necessary role in modern photojournalism.

We interview early adopters and pioneering artists such as Bert Monroy, Chris Orwig, and Douglas Kirkland, as well as the people responsible for guiding Photoshop’s development: John Nack, Russell Brown, and current product manager Bryan O’Neil Hughes. Konrad Eek and Sean Adams also explain what life was like before Photoshop and how this beguiling tool has democratized design and darkroom photography.

…read more

The two objects are traveling in exactly the same manner

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 10.57.38 AM

Reality shatter. The two objects are traveling in exactly the same manner. Watch when it turns gray.

— Cliff Pickover (@pickover) June 18, 2016

Clifford Pickover says, “Reality shatter. The two objects are traveling in exactly the same manner. Watch when it turns gray.”

And this:

Reality distortion. The orange dot that doesn’t actually change size.

— Cliff Pickover (@pickover) June 17, 2016


…read more

Even by Chris Christie standards, his lie about Trump's birtherism is a whopper

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 9.59.07 AM

JAKE TAPPER: “Well, just as a point of fact, again, Donald Trump did not accept when Barack Obama released his birth certificate in 2011. He kept up this whole birther thing until Friday. That’s five years. But we only have a little time left. So, I want to ask you…”

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-N.J.): “No, but, Jake, that’s just not true. It’s not true that he kept it up for five years.”

TAPPER: “Sure, he did.”

CHRISTIE: “It’s simply not true.”

TAPPER: “It is true.”

CHRISTIE: “It wasn’t like he was talking — no, Jake, it wasn’t like — it wasn’t like he was talking about it on a regular basis until then.”

— Exchange on CNN”s “State of the Union,” Sept. 18, 2016

Washington Post, gives Christie “Four Pinochios.” It says, “This will possibly be our shortest fact check ever.”

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 10.51.40 AM

An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that @BarackObama‘s birth certificate is a fraud.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2012

…read more

Beatles Remix Tee: Elizabeth & Hillary & Ruth & Michelle!

050 056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1174

Kyle from Bumperactive writes, “The Texas Democratic Party has released an amazing new t-shirt celebrating four of the strong women at the forefront of the national party: Elizabeth & Hillary & Ruth & Michelle! The iconic portrait series is, of course, a remix of photographer Richard Avedon’s classic psychedelic portraits of The Beatles. Whether or not you find it mind-bending that one of America’s two major parties embraces powerful female voices in leadership roles across all branches of government, this tee is a trip to the future!

…read more

A historian of "Positive Thinking" surrenders (almost)


Over at Medium, BB pal Mitch Horowitz, author of the excellent Occult America and One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life, writes about how “if America loses its smiley-faced coffee mugs and ethic of better tomorrows — themes extolled by presidents ranging from Ronald Reagan (‘nothing is impossible’) to Barack Obama (‘yes, we can’) — we also risk losing a basic part of what makes our nation work.” From Medium:

Consider online banter. The level of invective is bottomless on Twitter, comments sections, and virtually everywhere in the perpetual open-mic night of digital culture. Americans once turned to books like Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936) to learn how to behave appropriately in professional environments and get things done inside large organizations. (Key insight: agreeable people win.) Yet our generation is almost hostile to the lessons of civility held by the previous one.

The original positive thinkers were actually a cohort of mystics, freethinkers, proto-psychologists, and religious seekers in New England in the mid-to-late 19th century. Their movement was often called New Thought, and they believed that thoughts, in some greater or lesser measure, affected health, happiness, fortunes, and relationships.

Remember the oft-mocked mantra “Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better”? It was a confidence-boosting formula popularized in the early 1920s by French hypnotherapist Emile Coué. Although Coué won thousands of followers, critics mocked his method for its singsong simplicity. Today he is forgotten. But placebo researchers at Harvard Medical School recently validated one of the mind theorist’s most important insights.

Losing The War On Unhappiness: A Historian of “Positive Thinking” Declares Surrender — Almost

…read more

Done in your name: Survivors of CIA's torture-decade describe their ordeals


For nearly a decade, the CIA kidnapped people from over 20 countries, held them without trial or counsel, and viciously tortured them, sometimes to death — but the only person to serve jail time for the program is the man who blew the whistle on it, and that’s thanks in part to Obama’s insistence that “Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”

…read more

Washington Post: first newspaper ever to call for prosecution of its own source


The Washington Post was one of the newspapers that participated in the initial Snowden disclosures; Barton Gellman won a well-deserved Pulitzer for his work on them — but now the paper’s editorial board have called on the US government to imprison Edward Snowden, making it the first paper in US history to demand the prosecution of its own source, specifically to punish him for bringing them the story they published.


…read more

Jigsaw: "wildly ambitious" Google spin-out aimed at tackling "surveillance, extremist indoctrination, censorship"

050 056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1173

Technologists have a dismal pattern: when it comes to engineering challenges (“build a global-scale comms platform”) they rub their hands together with excitement; when it comes to the social challenges implied by the engineering ones (“do something about trolls”) they throw their hands up and declare the problem to be too hard to solve.

…read more

Tim O'Reilly shares his favorite books, running shoes, and a cure for colds

Image of Tim O'Reilly by takeshi honma

Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Tim O’Reilly on the Cool Tools podcast.

Our guest this week is Tim O’Reilly. He’s the founder of O’Reilly Media, a company the spreads the knowledge of innovators through technology books, online services, magazines, research, and tech conferences.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

Unix regular expressions

“This is an enormous power – you can write scripts that allow you to do magic with text.”

Amazon Echo’s Alexa

“Whoever did the design work on Alexa did it brilliantly.”

Gan Mao Ling and Black Elderberry

“If you feel like you are coming down with a cold, take these in combination. I have found it incredibly reliable in knocking out colds.”

Also: Astragalus Supreme as an immune system booster, and Juvenon (“I felt like it took 10 years off my life, in a good way, making me 10 years younger. I take a generic version called Anti-Aging LX“)

Altra Men’s Instinct 3.5 Running Shoe

“Running shoes with a really wide toe box. It’s a bit like running barefoot inside the shoe.”

“These books have become part of my mental toolchest:”

The Way of Life, According to Laotzu translated by Witter Bynner.

“My personal religious philosophy, stressing the rightness of what is, if only we can accept it. Most people who know me have heard me quote from this book. ‘Seeing as how nothing is outside the vast, wide-meshed net of heaven, who is there to say just how it is cast?'” (From Books That Have Shaped How I Think)

The Meaning of Culture, John Cowper Powys

“This book is a part of my regular mental toolbox. Powys makes the point that the difference between education and culture is that culture is the incorporation of music, art, literature, and philosophy not just into your library or your CV but into who you are. He talks too about the interplay of culture and life, the way that what we read can enrich what we experience, and what we experience can enrich what we read.” [via]

The poetry of Wallace Stevens

“Stevens is my favorite poet, and this is the most commonly available collection of his poems. His meditations on the relationship of language and reality have entranced me for more than thirty years. I keep reading the same poems, and finding more and more in them. Also someone I quote often. Special favorites are ‘Sunday Morning,’ ‘An Ordinary Evening in New Haven,’ and ‘Esthetique du Mal.'” [via]

Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics, by Alfred Korzybski

“OK, General Semantics was the 30s equivalent of pop-psychology in the 70s, but there are some great concepts there. ‘The map is not the territory.’ The idea is that people get stuck in concepts and don’t go back to observation. My friend George Simon applied General …read more

Google announces new travel planning app: Google Trips


I use TripIt for travel planning, but I’m going to give the new Google Trips a try. It stores your travel plans offline, so you don’t need to have a Wi-Fi or cellular connection to find directions or access your itinerary.

When I installed it, it scanned my gmail and did a great job of finding my upcoming flight, restaurant, and hotel reservations.

Google Trips makes exploring the world easier by organizing your essential info in one place and making it available even offline. Get activity suggestions based on what’s nearby, customizeable day plans, and your travel reservations from Gmail.


Your travel reservations are automatically gathered from Gmail and organized into individual trips. Each trip contains day plans, things to do, food and drink suggestions, and more.


See your flight, hotel, rental car, and restaurant bookings in one place without having to search for them individually.


For several hundred of the world’s top places, find popular day plans organized on a map that you can customize based on your interests and available time.


Find out when you’re near popular attractions (and whether they’re open) as well as reviews and ratings from other travelers.


Every trip contains ideas for things to do automatically organized into useful categories like Top Spots and Indoors or Outdoors. For many of the world’s top places, you’ll get curated local suggestions and travel tips.


No Internet? No problem. Google Trips is available offline, so you’ll always have access to your info.

…read more

Halibut with Fennel, Peppers, and Tomatoes

Halibut with Vegetables

My mom used to say that by the 4th of July, summer was over. Thanks for that, Mom.

Never mind. Unlike her, I am all about seizing the (summer) day, and this one-pan recipe for halibut with loads of fresh vegetables does that for me.

It’s colorful. It’s quick. It’s full of flavor and light but satisfying for these last days of warm weather. Plus there’s only one pan to wash at the end of the meal. Who doesn’t get excited about that?

Continue reading “Halibut with Fennel, Peppers, and Tomatoes” »

…read more

Prosecutors and defense lawyers agree - Chris Christie knew about bridge lane closures as they happened

Image: Wikipedia/Gage Skidmore

New Jersey governor Chris Christie has vehemently denied knowing anything about his staff’s scheme to punish a local mayor by ordering lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in 2013. But today, prosecutors in the trial against two former Christie staffers charged with closing the lanes said Christie knew about it all along.

Via NYT:

Prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office said that two of the alleged co-conspirators in the case, David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, had bragged to the governor about the lane closings, and that they had been done to “mess” with the mayor of Fort Lee because he had declined entreaties to endorse the governor’s re-election.

The prosecutor, Vikas Khanna, instantly advised the jury that they should not consider the actions of “others” or wonder why they were not charged.

The details of the plot that Mr. Khanna laid out were largely familiar by now: that one of the defendants, Bridget Anne Kelly, sent an email in August 2013 saying “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” after confirming that the mayor of that borough would not endorse Mr. Christie. A month later, two of three access lanes to the George Washington Bridge were shut down, and the other defendant, Mr. Baroni, the highest ranking official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the bridge, studiously ignored the mayor as he pleaded by text, email and a handwritten letter for the agency to reopen the lanes.

…read more

This 10-in-1 tool will up your smoking game

The Nuggy Smoker’s Multi-Tool is a ten-in-one tool that takes all the mess out of the smoking process – from packing to scraping it clean. The tools included are:

  • Knife
  • Scissors
  • Clip
  • Tamper
  • Mini-spoon
  • Bowl scraper
  • Bottle opener
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Pick/poker
  • LED flashlight

Basically, the only missing is a nice grinder. The Nuggy comes in handy in tons of different situations outside of smoking too. And since it’s compact enough to fit in your pocket or purse, you can take it with you wherever you go.

Get yours for just $29.75 in the Boing Boing store.

…read more

The history and future of Lemmings, and a proposal


Lemmings is one of the best video games of all time, and seemed in the 90s to be on the verge of becoming an explosive media phenomenon. Its tiny animated characters are fab: adorable yet down-to-earth, capable yet doomed, a smorgasbord of sarcastic bite and hurt/comfort neediness. After publisher Psygnosis was bought by Sony, though, the Lemmings soon vanished into the corporate archives. The creators went on to make the Grand Theft Auto series. But perhaps their first mega-hit could have its day again.

‘I would have loved to take the characters and do something different with them,’ says [co-creator Mike] Dailly. ‘But we never got the chance. When you get down to it the original game was brilliant, and the sequel had brilliant tech. But the characters themselves are what makes the game. And they should be used for more, for far more.’

In today’s nostalgia-hungry industry the return of Lemmings is hopefully a matter of time. Updating a classic is never easy, of course, but the game is so original and well-loved it’s amazing no-one has tried to do what Championship Edition did for Pac-Man. That may be Lemmings’ beauty and its curse. There is not a single element of the game that could be removed without changing the whole thing. Adding more stuff, as with the sequel, doesn’t make it better. And how can you update visuals that are iconic because they’re 8×10 sprites?

Well, there are hard marketing problems when your entire premise is “100 literally identical characters, constantly and comically brutalized”.

Looking through old promo art, they never quite cracked the problem of turning the unilemming design into a group of personalities who might appeal to human beings on a level beyond abstraction. This would be no easy feat when your concept makes the Smurfs seem a diverse bunch—and every individual distinction you add chips away at the original stark premise.

My dark fan conspiracy theory solves this problem. Lemmings are captive slave Womble children and the two universes should be united into the most overwhelmingly British animation of all time.

…read more

400+ depictions of soda machines in video games


Jess Morrissette writes, “I’m a professor of Political Science at Marshall University, and I recently launched a project aimed at cataloging screenshots of every soda machine to have ever appeared in a video game. We’ve reached over 400 entries in less than a month, featuring virtual soda machines ranging from the earliest days of video game history through games released in recent weeks.”

…read more

North Carolina's transphobic "bathroom bill" law is already costing it hundreds of millions of dollars


Wired’s Emma Grey Ellis runs the numbers on HB2, the anti-transgender North Carolina law that requires bearded blokes to use the womens’ bathroom because they have an F on their birth certificate. “It’s North Carolinians, most of whom don’t even support the legislation,” Emma writes, “who get stuck with the bill. ”

Adding all that up, the total cost to North Carolinians so far from HB2 protests is slightly more than $395 million. That’s more than the GDP of Micronesia. And the bulk of it is from sporting organizations, who even five years ago would likely not have waded into political territory like this. But experts aren’t that surprised that the NBA, NCAA, and ACC have taken this step now. “They’re not out on a limb here,” Durso says. “They’re in line with their base.” The near unanimous outcry against HB2 and in support of the NCAA and ACC confirms that. Legislating discrimination has become an expensive bad habit.

The sports-media business often imposes audience consensus upon local authorities. If usually a bad thing–think “taxpayers hooked into building private stadiums”–there are silver linings.

…read more

Authorities launch Muslim hunt with emergency text message: "see media for pic"


Hey, you know Ahmad Khan Rahami, right? Yeah mate, google that mug. He’s our man, tell us if you spot him.

The real text message, sent to New Yorkers using an emergency response system, was a little less casual: “WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9–1–1 if seen.” But it’s annoyed critics of sloppy policing and convinced some area Muslims that it’s not a good day to be out on the streets.

The wireless emergency alert system is for Amber Alerts, alerts from the President, and imminent threats to public safety. It’s a bad idea to use such a rudimentary, text-only, in-your-face alert system to directly deputize 13m people in the search of a man with a common Arab name.

It provides no useful contextual information, warns of no imminent danger. It essentially deputizes the five boroughs and encourages people to treat anyone who looks like he might be named “Ahmad Khan Rahami” with suspicion. In a country where people are routinely harassed and assaulted for just appearing to be Muslim, this is remarkably ill-advised.

It’s a good example of how something’s intended strengths—emergency management systems, terror legislation, and so forth—are exposed as weaknesses when cops abuse them in the hope of a quick collaring or easier prosecutions. They should know that whatever their intentions, the result of this foolish message would be a “Muslim hunt” more suited to a subreddit than the streets of New York City.

I can’t help but wonder how useful Amber Alerts are in this format, too.

America, if you see the man in the photograph, you know what to do.

Rahami wanted image

…read more

3 days until Chelsea Manning's Disciplinary Board (for her suicide attempt)

chelsea_large clean cropped

The Chelsea Manning Support Network has just emailed us this latest update:

1. Chelsea has written an Op-Ed for the Guardian that will be published
today. (We will link to it from here, when it’s up.)

2. Recap: New Administrative board date Thursday, September 22, 9:30 am.

3. Please sign the petition at

(Image courtesy of the Chelsea Manning Support Network)

…read more

Five second rule conclusively debunked


Few things match the delight of my dogs and myself at the sight of Floor Food. When it happens we’re like “Ooo! Floor Food!” and compete to dive on it and eat it first. Sadly, The New York Times reports that the Five Second Rule—the cherished belief among some humans that it is ‘safe’ to eat Floor Food so long as it has been in contact with the floor for less than five seconds—has been debunked.

Professor Donald W. Schaffner, a food microbiologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said a two-year study he led concluded that no matter how fast you pick up food that falls on the floor, you will pick up bacteria with it.

The findings in the report — “Is the five-second rule real?” — appeared online this month in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

They tested stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood, and carpet, with four different traditional floor foods: bread, buttered bread, watermelon and gummi bears. All resulted in the transfer of a salmonella-like bacterium.

HOWEVER. They also noted that while “bacteria can contaminate instantaneously,” it was also the case that “longer contact times resulted in transfer of more bacteria,” so I figure we’re still good.

Photo: reader of the pack [CC BY-ND 2.0]

…read more

During the siege of Leningrad, nine botanists starved to death protecting a storehouse of edible crops


During the siege of Leningrad in World War II, a heroic group of Russian botanists fought cold, hunger, and German attacks to keep alive a storehouse of crops that held the future of Soviet agriculture. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll tell the story of the Vavilov Institute, whose scientists literally starved to death protecting tons of treasured food.

We’ll also follow a wayward sailor and puzzle over how to improve the safety of tanks.

Show notes

Please support us on Patreon!

…read more