Day: October 5, 2016

Tabloids report on breaking news, decades after others reported it

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The latest news – from decades past – seems to be the theme of this week’s tabloids.

“Trump’s Tax Returns Revealed” screams the ‘National Enquirer’ cover, promising that “Hillary’s ugly smear campaign falls apart!” But The ‘Enquirer’ has only obtained the Republican presidential candidate’s tax returns for 1975 to 1977, almost three decades out of date. To learn that he paid an average of $23,977 in federal taxes over those three years is scarcely relevant to the questions hanging over Trump today. But for the ‘Enquirer,’ that’s good enough to exonerate Trump of any question of tax avoidance.

The “sinister plot” behind the famed meeting between President Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley a staggering 46 years ago is “revealed” by the ‘Globe.’ If they had bothered to read Nixon aide Egil ‘Bud’ Krough’s 1994 book ‘The Day Elvis Met Nixon,’ however, they would have read the same story: that Elvis wanted the US government to condemn The Beatles. As Krough said: “Presley indicated that he thought the Beatles had been a real force for anti-American spirit.” It’s sweet to see a vaguely accurate story in the Globe for once, even if it’s four decades late.

The ‘Globe’ continues digging into history by declaring (for the umpteenth time) that it has “proof” that Prince Charles “murdered Diana!” Having already decided that the Queen ordered Diana’s body exhumed and demanded a new autopsy – demonstrably false – the publication now reports on details of the non-existent coroner’s report, allegedly proving that Charles had his wife assassinated. Of course, Diana died back in August 1997, so that’s a relatively recent story fas far as this week’s tabloids are concerned.

The ‘Globe’ goes even further back for its story about Ethel Kennedy being “stabbed in the back” by her sister-in-law Jean Kennedy Smith (Bobby’s wife), who penned a letter to Marilyn Monroe purportedly condoning the movie star’s fling with RFK, saying: “Understand that you and Bobby are the new item!” The letter is among Monroe’s personal correspondence being auctioned in Los Angeles next month, which would make it news, if not for the fact that this story appeared back in 1994 when the letter was previously auctioned. At that time Jean Kennedy Smith issued a statement: “The suggestion that the letter verifies an affair is utter nonsense. I am shocked that anyone would believe such innuendo about a letter obviously written in jest.” No doubt Jean Kennedy Smith, now aged 88, would be equally horrified that the antique letter is being treated as a news item.

Just how ancient are the readers of the ‘Globe’? The editors this week treat us to the story of Eleanor Roosevelt’s “lesbian love” affair, which they claim is now “exposed!” How fresh is this revelation about the First Lady’s relationship with White House correspondent Lorena ‘Hick’ Hickok which first blossomed in 1932? Well, back in 1978 more than 3,500 letters between the two women, detailing their intimate friendship, were revealed. But it goes back …read more

3D printers needed to crowdsource a giant Rosie the Riveter

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Todd writes, “We the Builders brings together 3D printer operators from all over the world to create sculptures that inspire makers. Our sculptures have toured maker-related events of all sizes around the northeastern United States, from local STEAM education events all the way to the White House. They are crowd-sourced, made up of hundreds of pieces 3D printed by people like you, and then mailed to Baltimore.”
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Russia abruptly halts nuclear and energy-related research pact with U.S.

Reuters

Welp, this does not sound good.

Cooperation between the United States and Russia hit a serious new snag today when the government of Donald Trump’s personal hero Vladimir Putin put the brakes on an agreement with the United States in nuclear energy.

On Wednesday, Russian officials announced suspension of a nuclear research agreement, and the termination of a another agreement on uranium conversion.

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A simple smartphone controlled wireless button-pushing robot

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“Is this a real thing? Or, an early April Fools?” asks long time friend of Boing Boing, Kent K. Barnes of the Microbot Push.

These Rube Goldberg-ian wireless button-pushers look amazingly handy for all sorts of applications! I imagine Dr. Emmett Brown could find a lot of uses for them.

The MicroBot Push can be controlled via IOS or Android, and works pretty much any place you want to stick a button. At $49 a robot it is pretty expensive, especially as you’ll need two for a rocker switch! Regardless, I’m ordering one to play with, it seems too much fun to be true!

MicroBot Push – Platinum White via Amazon

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Vote on questions for upcoming presidential candidates' town hall

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Adam from Bold Progressives writes, “For the first time, questions from the internet will asked to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at a presidential ‘town hall’ debate this Sunday. Even better, the wisdom of crowds can impact what gets asked!”

The Atlantic reports, “Debate moderators confirmed they are embracing a format that a broad bipartisan cross-section of activist and civic groups known as the Open Debate Coalition have been pushing for years. Americans will be able to submit and then vote on questions online at PresidentialOpenQuestions.com, and ABC and CNN have agreed to consider the 30 most popular queries when they jointly plan the debate.”

Organizations across the political spectrum are taking this seriously and engaging their supporters, from the NAACP to NARAL to the NRA. Millions of votes have been cast so far. Add your voice to the mix — vote today!

What Would You Ask the Candidates?

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The Gozinta Boxes: a work of mathematical and optical genius

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There are geniuses in almost every creative field. In the world of magic and magicians, there is Lubor Fiedler. While many magicians create tricks, Lubor did something much more difficult: he created new principles on which tricks are based. Lubor lived in Czechoslovakia, escaped to the west and lived in Austria, then returned home after The Czech Republic was liberated. He was a brave and clever man; Lubor died two years ago at age 81 while sitting at his computer, still inventing. He was far and away the most creative person I’ve ever met, and he learned a lot in his years of working in a chemical factory. He would give lectures for groups of other magicians and fool them deeply because the principles underlying his tricks were always new.

One of his most famous creations is “The Gozinta Boxes,” as in “one goes into the other.” What you see is amazing: a box is displayed and the lid removed. There is a small box inside it. The small box is removed, then the lid is replaced on the larger box. Next the small box’s lid is taken off. And here’s the part that hurts your brain: the large box is then inserted into the smaller box, and the lid of the smaller box put back on. It’s a work of mathematical and optical genius which seems utterly impossible when you see it. This shaky video was taken at a magic convention where Lubor lectured the year before he died, and it shows him performing his “Gozinta Boxes.”

Author Peter Prevos, on his website Magic Perspectives has put up a downloadable file which allows you to make your own set of “Gozinta Boxes” with a bit of arts and crafts. Here it is:

You can also download the pdf or simply right click on the image above and save it to your computer. Print it out twice, on two different pieces of construction paper or cardstock, and cut it out. Fold per the instructions and tape or glue it together. You end up with a box and lid of one color, and a second box and lid of another color.

Once you’ve got the four pieces (both boxes are the same size!), all you need to do is watch the video of Lubor, above, or this video of the late British magician Paul Daniels, and follow along. There are no instructions needed: just copy what you see. Here Paul is doing an enhanced version of the trick (called “Paradox”) using a magician’s prop known as spongeballs. This version was created by Toru Suzuki, the director of the Creative Division for the Japanese company Tenyo. But you can just ignore the spongeballs and concentrate on the boxes.

If you don’t want to print, cut, and paste, or just desire a more solid version made of plastic for only $3, you can buy one here.

If you want …read more

The Muppets Return in Great Moments of American History

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On Sunday October 2, the Muppets arrived at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World to star in a new show, Great Moments in American History. As expressed by Samuel Johnson in another context in 1777, when a person is tired of the Muppets, he is tired of life.

The show stars Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Sam Eagle, Fozzie Bear, and other bags of foam and fur.

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There are two different versions of the show, one 11 minutes and the other 8, both of which are repeated multiple times a day, and include a new musical number. The Muppets appear in windows above street level.

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In addition to the four or five puppeteers required, there is also a singing performer on the street who portrays the Town Crier. With so much labor involved, the notoriously tight-fisted folks who run Walt Disney World probably have already decided on a closing date for these shows because they are so labor intensive (I would love to be proved wrong. I’ve been waiting about 15 years for a decent attraction in the Imagination pavilion at Epcot with no news in sight).

In the meantime, you can delight in the Muppets on your next visit to the Magic Kingdom. For those who can’t wait, or who won’t make the live show, Attractions Magazine posted videos of the new shows. Take it away, Sam Eagle!

The Full Declaration Show:

The Paul Revere Show:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZxqgVLiSb0

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Face and body paint crayons

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Halloween is here and it was time for some new face paint. These crayons are very easy to use.

A bit less exact than a brush, these crayons are a fast and simple way to put paint on whomever is your canvas. The 12 colors are bright, and vibrant; showing well against the various skin colors in our household. Soap and warm water washes it right off.

I suggest wearing latex gloves as you apply it, the paint doesn’t dry and gets a bit slippery on my fingers.

Great for use on your budding juggalo!

Dress Up America 12 Color Face Paint Safe & Non-Toxic Face and Body Crayons

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The story of D.B. Cooper, the only unsolved hijacking in American history

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In 1971 a mysterious man hijacked an airliner in Portland, Oregon, demanding $200,000 and four parachutes. He bailed out somewhere over southwestern Washington and has never been seen again. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll tell the story of D.B. Cooper, the only unsolved hijacking in American history.

We’ll also hear some musical disk drives and puzzle over a bicyclist’s narrow escape.

Show notes

Please support us on Patreon!

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New England Cioppino

New England Cioppino

The tomato-based seafood stew called “cioppino” began in the kitchens of San Francisco’s Italian-American immigrants. Those cooks used a variety of fish and shellfish found in their new region to make this colorful, hearty meal.

Take that stew pot to New England and the seafood changes. Where San Francisco cooks have Dungeness crab, New Englanders have lobster, haddock, and other bounty from the North Atlantic.

Cioppino, it turns out, translates just fine to East Coast tables.

Continue reading “New England Cioppino” »

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Invent virtually anything you think up with this Kickstarter success

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If you’ve felt intimidated by Raspberry Pi and Arduino – we get that. That’s why we’re excited to share the SAM Inventor Kit, an incredibly simple DIY kit that was made a reality by over 800 Kickstarter backers.

The SAM Inventor Kit is a smart construction kit that’s simple enough for kids to use. It doesn’t incorporate any wires – all the parts are wirelessly activated so you can build without needing advanced electronic knowledge.

The kit comes with 4 specially selected wireless blocks, which connect to your computer and can be linked to each other to create different combinations of inventions.You can link a button block to an LED light to create a flashlights, combine blocks to master Morse code, and even design alarm systems. Best of all, you can use SAM to prank your family and friends. Check this out:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPp68MExnkw&w=560&h=315]

This kit was created to help kids and adults of all ages discover their own inner inventors. Plus, you can even connect your SAM blocks to external services like Twitter and Facebook to add a social component to your creations.

If you’ve shied away from DIY kits in the past, we highly suggest trying out this easy-to-use option. The SAM Inventor Kit is just $129 in the Boing Boing Store today.

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Air vent magnetic phone mount for $4

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This magnetic phone mount is $4 on Amazon when you use code MHE52LAQ. It’s usually $9, but occasionally the price drops to $4.

I started using a magnetic phone mount for my car over a year ago, and I think it is the best way to secure my phone to the dashboard. I’ve tried lots of other kinds of mounts, and this is the most convenient. The only downside is that you have to apply a thin metal plate to the back of your phone or phone case so it will stick to the the magnet on the mount. But the plate is very thin and it’s not a bother.

The magnetic mount attaches to an air vent on your car. This could be another downside, but since I live in Los Angeles, I’m almost always running the air conditioning so it keeps my phone from overheating when the sun is on it. That makes the air vent mount an upside for me. (With other mounts, the phone would get so hot that the safety shutdown would sometimes activate to prevent damage to the phone.)

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Cheap Novelties – RAW's Julius Knipl, real estate photographer, finally finds a suitable home

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Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay

by Ben Katchor

Drawn and Quarterly

2016, 112 pages, 8.8 x 10.9 x 0.7 inches (hardcover)

$23 Buy a copy on Amazon

Like a lot of bourgeois bohemians in the 1990s, I was a huge fan of the RAW comics anthologies which, among other incredible discoveries, introduced me to the work of Ben Katchor. One might not think that a comic strip about urban architecture, culture, city development and decay, real estate photography, memory, and loss would make very compelling comics, but then you probably haven’t met Katchor’s beloved comic strip character, Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer.

Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay, a collection of Katchor’s Knipl strips, was originally published in 1991 by RAW/Penguin as a cheap paperback. Twenty-five years later and Drawn & Quarterly finally gives Katchor and Knipl their due in a lovely hardbound, landscape edition of the original RAW strips.

If you’ve ever stared in wonder at the decades-old, sun-bleached product boxes inside of the display window of the only original hardware store left in town, or smelled an old typewriter repair shop, or purused gag gifts and tricks in a magic shop that’s been in the same city location for generations, then you’ll understand some of the lost urban culture that Cheap Novelties so deftly and melancholically evokes. As Julius Knipl is called out on building photography assignements, we see these vanishing haunts through his lens, momenents before they leave the city landscape forever, and we hear Knipl’s thoughts on the loss, reflections on his own rather homely life, and urban trivia – all rendered in a very confident and characterful hand in ink-and-gray marker washes.

Cheap Novelties was one of the series that launched the whole “graphic novel” revolution in comics. After touring the city disappearing beyond Julius Knipl’s lens, you will understand why.

– Gareth Branwyn

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Trump in a slump

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A week after his dreadful debate performance with Hillary Clinton, polls have headed south for Donald Trump.

Clinton is currently a 72 percent favorite in our polls-only forecast, up from 55 percent just before the debate. That corresponds to a roughly 4-percentage-point national lead for Clinton, about where the race was as of Labor Day — before a series of mishaps for her in mid-September. Our polls-plus model, which blends polls with an economic index and generally produces a more conservative forecast, has Clinton with a 69 percent chance instead.

But don’t take our model’s word for it: Take a look at the polls for yourself.

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UK paper The Independent tries to understand the nature and depth of the cycle:

The bigger question for Trump is how and if he can actually pass Clinton. In the RealClearPolitics average, Trump has led Clinton for only eight days this year. There have been three days this year that Trump’s polling average has been above 45 percent compared with 196 days this year that Clinton has topped that mark. Trump often disparages talk about his having a ceiling, pointing to similar arguments in the primary. But in the general, he hasn’t been able to manage a polling average of 46 percent in the head-to-head contest even once. In recent weeks, he has crept upward — but now Clinton’s creeping along ahead of him.

Two faint lights for Trump: despite polls worsening badly elsewhere, he seems to have extended his lead in key battleground state Ohio, at least among some pollsters. Also, last night’s Vice Presidential debate saw Tim Kaine in shabby, blustering form next to a calm and unruffled Mike Pence. These men were both strategic picks with mirroring objectives in mind: to win hard conservatives to Trump’s side and GOP moderates to Clinton’s. The consolation for Clinton is that suburban whites have gone to Trump anyway, so there wasn’t much for Kaine to lose by this point.

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July: Vancouver imposes a 15% tax on foreign real estate speculators; September: home sales drop by a third

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Vancouver has been wracked by a white-hot property bubble driven primarily by offshore speculators, mostly Chinese, who have driven up the price of housing beyond the means of working Vancouverites, crippling the city’s daily life as workers, students and families struggle to find somewhere — anywhere — to live.
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Donald and His Imaginary Publicist Prepare for a Debate

FOLLOW @RubenBolling on the Twitters and a Face Book.

JOIN Tom the Dancing Bug’s subscription club, the Proud & Mighty INNER HIVE, for exclusive early access to comics, extra comics, and oh, so much more.

GET Ruben Bolling’s new hit book series for kids, The EMU Club Adventures. (”A book for the curious and adventurous!” -Cory Doctorow) Book One here. Book Two here.

More Tom the Dancing Bug comics on Boing Boing!
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Left-wing activists across the former USSR launch "September," to rally opposition to far-right movements

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September is a new website launched by left-wing groups in Ukraine, Belarus, and other former Soviet states, devoted to finding common cause among activists across the region (the name is a bit of an inside joke about the October, 1917 revolution, embodied in the site’s strapline, “It’s not October yet, but it’s close”).

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Can you guess what happened when a Young Adult lit mag suggested a bi character wasn't OK for younger readers?

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Kody Keplinger’s young-adult book, Run, has a queer character in it. In its review, the trade publication Voices of Youth Advocates (Voya) suggested this was inappropriate for younger readers: “The story contains many references to Bo being bisexual and an abundance of bad language, so it is recommended for mature junior and senior high readers.”

Asked why it thought a bisexual character made it inappropriate for young readers—people generally being more than explicit details of sex lives that are not even depicted—Voya’s editors went defensive in record time:

Since this is Bi Visibiliy Week, I understand your need to find and destroy your enemies in a public forum, however, Voya magazine and I are not your enemies.”

The complaint referred to was privately emailed; it was Voya’s decision to publish it, without permission, along with this response. In another response, it doubled down on the notion that sexuality is inherently inappropriate for exposure to younger readers:

Sexuality (the act or the discussion or the mention, in some cases) and language generally reserved for adults are two issues that are legitimate concerns when addressing the maturity of a teen reader. … This does not have anything to with with whether the sexuality was homo, hetero, bit or other – sexuality is sexuality. It just happened to be that the sexuality in this particular title (Why does that upset you?)

(Bonus points were not awarded for the parenthetical suggestion of emotional fragility.)

When scrutinized, Voya’s archives were found to have covered many books “CHOCK-A-BLOCK with heterosexual sex“. Only queer moments were subject to such “legitimate concerns.”

To readers (and many authors) this wasn’t just the usual media practice of hiding queerness from the young while slyly showering them with heterosexual titillation. Voya’s responses cut deeper: the pompous and sarcastic gatekeeping, the infuriating suggestion that minorities wanting representation are the real censors, the clenched-teeth insinuations that you do not belong here.

The Guardian quotes Daniel José Older nailing it. Most of the iceberg is still underwater:

Daniel José Older, a YA novelist and Guardian contributor, told me by phone that Voya’s response was familiar to those pushing for greater diversity in children’s literature – though usually such responses are not aired in public. “Every so often a Shriver will come out and let her defensiveness and feelings out, and then we get something to critique,” Older said. “But in general, the folks that don’t want the industry to change don’t have to say anything, because they have the luxury of keeping quiet and getting their way. So then we’re very public in trying to get ourselves seen on the page, and we become the aggressors because we’re the ones making noise.”

The apologies soon commenced, but Voya’s first attempts were not very good, going for the sort of “sorry that you were offended” PR-judo that has become a media cliché in its own right:

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Voya reviews editor Lisa Kurdyala posted, then deleted, another tin-eared (but slightly better!) apology to Facebook, accepting …read more