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Last Build Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2017 18:44:04 +0000


How the Voyager Golden Record happened (and no, The Beatles actually weren't on the wishlist)

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 18:25:22 +0000


Today marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2, the first of the two spacecraft that carried the Golden Record on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Science journalist Timothy Ferris produced this enchanting phonograph record that tells a story of our planet expressed in sounds, images, and science for any extraterrestrial intelligence that may encounter it. Tim wrote a beautiful essay telling the story behind the Voyager record for the Voyager Golden Record vinyl box set that I co-produced. And today you can read an adaptation of it over at The New Yorker. Happy anniversary to Voyager 2 and the Golden Record! From the New Yorker:

I’m often asked whether we quarreled over the selections. We didn’t, really; it was all quite civil. With a world full of music to choose from, there was little reason to protest if one wonderful track was replaced by another wonderful track. I recall championing Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night,” which, if memory serves, everyone liked from the outset. Ann stumped for Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” a somewhat harder sell, in that Carl, at first listening, called it “awful.” But Carl soon came around on that one, going so far as to politely remind Lomax, who derided Berry’s music as “adolescent,” that Earth is home to many adolescents. Rumors to the contrary, we did not strive to include the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” only to be disappointed when we couldn’t clear the rights. It’s not the Beatles’ strongest work, and the witticism of the title, if charming in the short run, seemed unlikely to remain funny for a billion years.

Ann’s sequence of natural sounds was organized chronologically, as an audio history of our planet, and compressed logarithmically so that the human story wouldn’t be limited to a little beep at the end. We mixed it on a thirty-two-track analog tape recorder the size of a steamer trunk, a process so involved that Jimmy (Iovine) jokingly accused me of being “one of those guys who has to use every piece of equipment in the studio.” With computerized boards still in the offing, the sequence’s dozens of tracks had to be mixed manually. Four of us huddled over the board like battlefield surgeons, struggling to keep our arms from getting tangled as we rode the faders by hand and got it done on the fly.

"How the Voyager Golden Record Was Made" by Timothy Ferris (The New Yorker)

Pre-order the Voyager Golden Record on vinyl or CD (Ozma Records)

Listen to excerpts from the Voyager Golden Record sourced from the original master tapes:

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Compare tiny PC cases with this useful online spreadsheet

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 17:05:17 +0000


Looking for a tiny PC that still has space for a gaming-quality video card? SFF PC Cases is a remarkably detailed spreadsheet listing dozens of models, complete with cost, dimensions, volume and even important build tips. The very smallest are not practical for powerful builds, but the critical "Maximum GPU length" field is right there to help you out.

The gold-standard NCase M1 turns out to be only the 27th smallest case that can accommodate a GPU, and even the ultrawee Dan Case A4 doesn't hit the top ten! But it's also true that many on the list require fat external power bricks (if you're happy with that, the Custom Mod and S4 Mini models are astoundingly tiny, though good luck finding them for sale) or impose other brutal compromises, such as proprietary power supplies, too-severe limitations on GPU size, or plain goofy design.

The smallest case that's widely-available, attractive, and (relatively) inexpensive? And not so small that assembly will be a nightmare? Probably the Fractal Node 202.

Crocheted pigeon costumes for dressing them up as extinct birds

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 16:29:37 +0000


Laurel Hope Roth, a former park ranger turned artist, has spent parts of the last decade creating intricate crocheted Biodiversity Reclamation Suits for Urban Pigeons. (more…)

Watch people whiz down this steep Swiss alpine slide

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 16:29:30 +0000


On the toboggan run (rodelbahn) overlooking Oeschinen Lake near Kandersteg, Switzerland, some people go in summer for the breathtaking view. Others go for the speedy thrill. Either way it looks like fun! (more…)

2017 EFF Pioneer Award winners: Chelsea Manning, Mike Masnick and Annie Game

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 15:19:32 +0000


The Electronic Frontier Foundation has announced the winners of the 2017 Pioneer Awards, "which recognize leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier." They are whistleblower Chelsea Manning, Techdirt editor Mike Masnick and free expression defender Annie Game. (more…)

This paper notebook is completely reusable after a trip to the microwave

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 10:00:10 +0000


Digital devices still have a long way to go before they can match the instant feedback and flexibility of paper. Even the low-latency touch screens found on the Microsoft Surface or iPad Pro still need expensive stylus peripherals to take advantage of handwritten notes and drawing features, and can be difficult to see in direct sunlight. If you are a visual thinker with a preference for physical touch over indirect manipulation, a paper notebook is still the preferred computing device: infinite battery life, and tangible, persistent storage.

The Rocketbook Reusable Smart Notebook aims to bridge the gap between the immediacy of paper, and the convenience of cloud storage, with a clever twist that helps you cut down on personal paper waste. It’s available in our Boing Boing store for $22.99.

At its core, the Rocketbook is just a bound bundle of acid-free dot-grid paper. But when paired with the your phone’s camera and the Rocketbook app’s computer vision tricks, it instantly digitizes and sorts your notebook pages. The bottom of each page features a row of printed icons that act as user-configurable visual links to folders in various cloud vaults like Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive.  You can set up to 7 custom locations in any compatible storage services. All you have to do is quickly mark the icon that’s associated with a particular cloud location, point your phone at the page, and all of your work is backed up remotely.

Why should you use their notebook over any old legal pad laying around? Because it is specifically made to be microwave-safe, and thus compatible with Pilot FriXion pens. These clever markers have ink that disappears at high temperatures, so you can completely erase your notebook when it’s all filled up (and backed up to the cloud) by putting in the microwave for a few minutes. These pens are readily available at most office supply stores, but you get one for free with your Rocketbook. When used with a FriXion, each book can be erased up to 5 times — perfect for even the most furious of notetakers. The Rocketbook Wave comes in two different paper sizes, 8.5” x 9” and 6”x 8.9”. And if you don’t have consistent access to a microwave, Rocketbook’s Everlast offerings feature pages that are repeatedly erasable with a damp cloth.

If you hate the thought of losing old notes, drawings, and grocery lists but also can’t stand to have excess clutter in your life, this notebook system reclaims your used paper and makes it easy to archive everything digitally. Pick up a Rocketbook Reusable Smart Notebook from our store for $22.99, 14% off the sticker price.

Watch: Pole-dancing T-rex

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 14:18:07 +0000


Why simply work the pole when you can work the pole in a T-rex costume? Well, one unnamed Gong Show contestant did just that.

Previously: Watch this Jewish surf band rock the new 'Gong Show'

Stop worrying: Pets aren't interested in staring into the sun

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 14:18:03 +0000


No need to get a pair of protective eclipse glasses for your dog or cat, experts say they don't normally look at the sun.

In today's NASA briefing about Monday's solar eclipse, co-chair of the National Solar Eclipse Task Force Angela Speck remarked, "It’s no different than any other day. On a normal day your pets don’t try to look at the sun and therefore don’t damage their eyes, so on this day they’re not going to do it either."

Veterinarian Dr. Tom Reaping of Youngstown, Ohio says, "Pets have a built-in ability to not look at the sun anyways so they are not going to be looking at that area."

If you're still worried, simply keep your pets inside --with the shades drawn-- during the eclipse.

photo by Tom Shockey

Why we often choose to keep useful information out of our heads

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 14:16:25 +0000

The cyberpunks, the Founding Fathers, the 19th Century philosophers, and the Enlightenment thinkers — they each envisioned a perfect democracy powered by a constant multimedia psychedelic freakout in which all information was free, decentralized, democratized, and easy to access. In each era, the dream was the same: A public life for the average citizen that was no longer limited by any kind of information deficit; a life augmented by instant and full access to all the information anyone could ever want. On top of that, they imagined the end of gatekeepers, the public fully able to choose what went into their minds. Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=""> — This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL. There is no better way to create a website than with Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. You can add and arrange your content and features with the click of a mouse. Squarespace makes adding a domain to your site simple; if you sign up for a year you’ll receive a custom domain for free for a year. Start your free trial today, at and enter offer code SOSMART to get 10% off your first purchase. Support the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details. Benjamin Franklin helped create to postal service to disseminate information through a network of newspapers and correspondence, and he thought public libraries, one in every community, would make farmers as educated as the aristocracy. The rationalist philosophers thought that widespread public education would eliminate superstitions. The same was said of public universities, and then computers, and then the internet, and then social media, and then the smart phone. And, in many ways, this dream has been realized. Little did these champions of the Enlightenment know that once we had access to all the facts…well reason and rationality wouldn’t just immediately wash across the land in a giant wave of enlightenment thinking. While that may be happening in some ways, the new media ecosystem has also unshackled some of our deepest psychological tendencies, things that enlightenment thinkers didn’t know about, weren’t worried about, or couldn’t have predicted. Many of which we’ve discussed in previous episodes like the backfire effect, confirmation bias, selective skepticism, filter bubbles and so on. These things have always been with us, but modern technology has provided them with the perfect environment to flourish. In this episode, we explore another such invasive psychological species called active information avoidance, the act of keeping our senses away from information that might be useful, that we know is out there, that would cost us nothing to obtain, but that we’d still rather not learn. From choosing not to open open bills, visit the doctor, check your bank account, or read the nutrition information on the back of that box of Girl Scout Cookies, we each choose to remain ignorant when we’d rather not feel the anguish of illumination, but that same tendency can also cause great harm both to individuals and whole cultures when it spreads through politics, science, markets, and medicine.[...]

Media Files:

Carpet is disgusting

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 14:02:21 +0000


This is your regularly scheduled important reminder that carpet is bad.

I have it in just one room of my house and no matter how often I clean it, the rinsewater looks like this. Carpet: Mattress of Filth.

I won't even recommend a steam cleaner. It's just so nasty, all of it. Don't buy one. Instead, destroy all carpet.

These intricate hand-painted mandala stones reveal the cosmic beauty of math

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 13:58:28 +0000


San Francisco-based artist Lina West creates these beautiful hand-painted mandala stones covered in gorgeous fractal patterns. (more…)

Boing Boing's oldest extant live page, an interview with John K. that just turned 22

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 13:58:15 +0000


On August 12, 1995, before Internet Archive or Google, Boing Boing conducted a charming interview with John Kricfalusi, creator of Ren & Stimpy. The Boing Boing Digital page still looks the way it did when readers read it on Explorer 1.0 or Netscape Navigator or what-not. (more…)

Shark cats: delightful portraits of terror

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 13:00:12 +0000


Brynn Metheny is the undisputed master of mashing up cats and sharks into delightful creatures. Her original series was so popular, she created a sequel this year. (more…)

Artist creates dollops of paint that are actually colored pencil illustrations

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 11:58:57 +0000


CJ Hendry creates large pencil sketches that mix hyperrealism with fantasy. After working mainly in black and white, she jumped to color in a big way with her series of colorful paint smears. (more…)

Watch a quarter million dominoes fall in this delightful game-themed setup

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 10:59:00 +0000


Steve Price and Lily Hevesh set up a massive domino course that includes homages to classic board and video games, and some sections even use game pieces as part of the action. (more…)

Bannon back at Breitbart after Trump White House ouster: 'I've got my hands back on my weapons'

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:52:59 +0000


Hold on to your butts, America. Steve Bannon is, as an ally told one reporter, “unchained” after being relieved of his White House duties as Trump's strategic advisor

In an interview this evening, Bannon tells the Weekly Standard he's returning to run, as he was before becoming Trump's campaign manager exactly one year and one day ago today.

Bannon will become Executive Chairman of the white supremacist “alt-right” publishing firm. “I built a f***ing machine at Breitbart,” Bannon said, “And now I’m about to go back...and we’re about to rev that machine up.”


Brandi Milne art exhibition opening August 19th in Los Angeles

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:31:07 +0000


Don’t miss painter Brandi Milne’s art exhibit which begins this month at the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles. The opening reception will be held on August 19th from 7-11 pm.

Milne is a self-taught artist and was born in the late '70s in Anaheim, California. Growing up close to Disneyland had a large impact on her imagination. She was constantly surrounded by classic cartoons, crayons, coloring books, candy, and Disney, which all became influences on her paintings. Milne’s paintings portray a surreal, candy-filled world that reflects emotions such as love, heartbreak, and pain.

Milne has displayed her work all over the world and has been featured in Hi Fructose and Bizarre Magazine. Milne has also has two books of her work published. If you live in LA, don’t miss your chance to attend the exhibit and take a look into the unique, fantastical world that Milne has created.










Photo of Brandi Milne by Jessica Louise

Exhibition of Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump's work

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:12:15 +0000


Rolly Crump: It's Kind of a Cute Story will be at the Oceanside Museum of Art, August 26, 2017–February 18, 2018. It's a must-see for fans of Disney art and design.

This exhibition invites the public to step into the whimsical mind of dreamer and designer Rolly Crump with the world premiere of a walk-through exhibition highlighting his 65-year career as one of the most imaginative attraction creators in theme park history. As a nonconformist member of Walt Disney’s hand-picked Disneyland design team, Crump was the eccentric architect of endearing and enduring environmental art installations that have stood at the forefront of a vibrant pop-culture landscape for over half a century. Crump’s contributions to It’s a Small World, The Enchanted Tiki Room, The Haunted Mansion, and other Disneyland attractions were trendsetting at the time of their creation, and they remain entirely relevant today in a multibillion-dollar industry that has grown perpetually and exponentially from the creative seeds planted by Crump and his peers. From his days within Disney’s inner circle of pioneers, and throughout all of his personal and professional endeavors, Crump has been a good-natured contrarian—a visual provocateur who infused each of his projects with his own offbeat aesthetic. This will be a journey through a world of spinning propellers, marching toys, living clocks, and talking tikis. Museum-goers of all ages will encounter magic, humor, and inspiration at every turn. Crump is a master of the fine art of fun. This exhibition is supported by Mary Scherr and Marvin Sippel


Interview with Ken Follet about forthcoming 3rd book in Kingsbridge series: A Column of Fire

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:02:41 +0000


The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End by Ken Follet's are two lenghthy novels about a fictional medieval English town called Kingsbridge. When I read them years ago I became immersed in a world of conflict, betrayal, and scheming. In a way, the novels are like Game of Thrones (at least the TV series; I have not read the books) without magic. I did expect Follet to write a third book about Kingsbridge, but he did. and it's coming on September 12. It's called A Column of Fire. They sent me an advance copy, so as soon as I finish the book I'm currently reading (Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters)

This third book in the bestselling Kingsbridge series introduces readers to a world of spies and secret agents in the sixteenth century, the time of Queen Elizabeth I. Set during one of the most turbulent and revolutionary times in history, this novel is one of Follett’s most exciting and ambitious works yet, appealing to both long-time fans of the Kingsbridge series as well as readers new to Follett.

A Column of Fire begins in 1558 where the ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn apart by religious conflict. As power in England shifts precariously between Catholics and Protestants, high principles clash bloodily with friendship, loyalty, and love. It’s the perfect epic, escapist read for the fall, after Game of Thrones leaves airwaves, transporting the reader to another century with its own heroes and villains. The real enemies then, as now, are not the rival religions. The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else.


Mike Pence wins the blunder games, at least in this photo

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 20:49:35 +0000


Michael "Rands" Lopp spotted something beautiful about this White House photo: everyone in it who doesn't have the word "president" in their job title has been fired.

Only the best people. (image)

Here's the season 1 winner of the blunder games, as shot by Jonathan Ernst with Reuters.

97-year-old man takes his first ride in a Tesla

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 20:09:11 +0000


When this 97-year-old Toronto man was born, the auto industry was just turning mainstream. Roads made for horses were being paved over for automobiles and the "average" family could consider buying a vehicle.


Living Tiny

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 19:15:00 +0000


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This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network:

HGTV and glossy magazines have sparked a boomlet of interest in tiny homes, but they've also made them look fun, cute and easy. The realities of a tiny lifestyle can be more daunting. Municipalities often don't know what to make of tiny houses, and living in one legally is, in many places, challenging. There's a lack of infrastructure for people who want to build them. And although they're in many ways an imaginative solution to some of the most vexing urban housing issues, they don't yet have a high profile in cities. Is there a place for tiny homes in Los Angeles? One woman thinks so, and has founded a collective of like-minded people to make it happen.

Photo by Ben Chun: Creative Commons

This is the fourth episode of Season 5. You can catch up on the whole series at the iTunes Store. While you're there, please take a second to leave the show a rating and review. And you can subscribe right here:  

iTunes | Android | Email | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS

Watch: Domino's Pizza employees tackle and rough up an armed robber

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 19:04:54 +0000


Yay, a brave (if not foolish) Domino's Pizza employee, Harish Karan, who had never seen a gun before, tackled a gunman Wednesday night at a Toronto location who was trying to steal cash from the register. And then three other employees joined in, holding him down, yanking off the burglar's cap, and even hitting him a couple of times. Police warn that fighting an armed robber is not usually the best thing to do.

According to CBC News:

While Karan and his colleagues seemed only proud of themselves, Toronto police say that no one should ever try to fight someone who is armed, unless it's a case of life and death.

"Let's face it, we're just talking about money in a store that's insured," Const. David Hopkinson said. "Had they not gotten hold of the gun and someone had been shot, we'd be talking about how completely senseless this was."

Police arrived at the Kingston Road pizza shop around 9:10 p.m. Wednesday, finding the assailant on the ground — held there by the group of employees.

Attacking a gunman might not be smart, but it sure is satisfying to watch.

Bird's eye view of a Lamborghini catching fire

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 18:41:15 +0000


This gentleman answers the age-old question -- what do you do when Lamborghini catches fire? The small fire extinguisher he borrowed only seemed to make the fire grow. It took a team of firefighters to put out the blaze.

[via Bits and Pieces]

DIY ant killer

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 18:29:27 +0000


Homebrew ant killer made from sugar, borax, and water is very effective in keeping ants out of the house. Dissolve a half cup of sugar with 1.5 tablespoons of borax into 1.5 cups of warm water. Then dip a cotton ball into the solution and set it on a countertop (where kids and pets won't eat it). The ants will flock to it and 12 hour later, you won't see any more ants for a long time. Get a one-pound bag of borax on Amazon for $8.50 (which you can also use to make slime).

Image: Balaram Mahalder/Wikipedia

Watch 1,069 robots simultaneously dance, setting world record

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 18:24:24 +0000


Some argue that this army of robots might scare the living bejeezus out of you, but the talented dancers just broke a Guinness World Record in Guangzhou, Guangdong China, for most robots dancing simultaneously. They were created by WL Intelligent Technology Co, Ltd., and according to YouTube, "The robots were Dobi models who, along with being programmed to dance, can also sing, box, play football and execute kung fu moves. The robot display broke the previous record of 1,007, achieved by Ever Win Company & Ltd. in 2017." Yeah, they're a little creepy, but with a cute name like Dobi, they're also kind of adorable.

Hidden message in mass resignation letter from President Trump's Committee on Arts and Humanities

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:40:03 +0000


Look at the first letter of each paragraph in this letter of resignation from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, signed by 16 of the 17 members.


Durham protesters turn themselves in at police station after pulling down Confederate statue

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:19:33 +0000


On Monday, anti-racist protesters in Durham, North Carolina pulled down a statue dedicated to the "unknown soldiers" who fought to defend slavery, which was adorned with "a seal engraved with ‘The Confederate States of America’" and the words, "In memory of the boys who wore gray." (more…)

Hiding malware in boobytrapped replacement screens would undetectably compromise your mobile device

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:03:06 +0000


On the one hand, if you let an untrusted stranger install hardware in your electronic device, you're opening yourself up to all kinds of potential mischief; on the other hand, an estimated one in five smartphones has a cracked screen and the easiest, most efficient and cheapest way to get that fixed is to go to your corner repair-shop. (more…)

Preserving electronics: vermin, leaky batteries, melting rubber, brittle plastics, dribbly capacitors, fungus and dust

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:50:39 +0000


Benji Edwards's guide to preserving vintage electronics is a fascinating look into all the ways that even solid-state gear can go off in long-term storage: a lot of stuff (batteries, capacitors and even rubber) can leak viscous, electronics-destroying liquids; plastics break down in UV light; mold and corrosion eat your gear from within; spiders, crickets and roaches make their nests in old gear; and of course, dust gets everywhere. (more…)