One day in the early 1970s, while looking for Dennis the Menace paperbacks at a used bookstore in Boulder, Colorado, I discovered a copy of a book of "droodles," which were simple yet mysterious line drawings that became clear when you read the caption. Droodles where the creation of an American humorist named Roger Price, who wrote for MAD and Playboy, had his own TV shows, and worked with folks like Bob Hope and Carl Reiner. He was also the co-creator of the wildly popular Mad-Libs books. I became a huge fan and tracked down as many of his humor books as I could find.
Years later, when I started going out with Carla while we were attending Colorado State University, she showed me a letter that her mother's friend had mailed her. It was typed and had funny, simple line drawings on it. I looked at the return address. The name of the sender was Roger Price. I was astonished. She opened her desk drawer and showed me a stack of letters he'd written her, all with funny Droodlesque drawings in them.
When we moved to Los Angeles she introduced me to Roger. He was in his late '60s at the time, and was very interested and supportive of the fact that Carla and I were launching a zine (bOING bOING). Roger had done the same with a magazine called Grump. We saw Roger often, and he was always funny and curious about what we were working on, and gave us a lot of useful advice about writing. Read the rest “Can you guess the meaning of these Droodles?”
The Innuendo Studios YouTube channel has been producing a video series on the culture of the alt-right. The latest video is called "Always a Bigger Fish" and it's about the way conservatives believe in a social hierarchy, and how liberals' efforts to achieve a more equitable society is a threat to the natural order of things.
It's also worth reading the research list used to produce the videos.
Below, the entire series in chronological order:
Read the rest “New video from the Alt-Right playbook explainer series: "Always a Bigger Fish"”
Raw vegan celebrity Instagrammer/YouTuber Yovana Mendoza Ayre (28), known as @rawvana on Instragam, was seen in a video with a plate containing fish, and now a lot of people are upset about it. In the video, it looks like she is trying to hide the fish from the camera.
She eventually posted a half-hour long video to YouTube where she fessed up to reintroducing fish and eggs to her diet for health reasons:
Read the rest “Vegan influencer outed for eating meat in video”
The Father's Nursing Assistant is made by Dentsu, a Japanese company. It's basically a canteen in the shape of woman's breasts. Of course, it's also wireless with some kind of app to let you know what happened.
From the press release:
Read the rest “High tech device allows men to breastfeed babies”
The amount of time infants in Japan spend sleeping is shorter compared to the rest of the world. Much of the parental stress and difficulties surrounding childrearing are related to feeding and sleeping, and generally the rate of participation by fathers tends to be low. Breastfeeding is also effective at helping the parent sleep--a benefit that is currently skewed toward women. Focusing on breastfeeding, we aim to decrease the amount of burden on mothers and increase the amount of time infants sleep by enabling fathers to breastfeed. This is realized with the FATHER'S NURSING ASSISTANT wearable device. Based on advice from pediatricians and babysitters, who say that babies tend to touch the breast with their hands when feeding and that the softness seems to sooth them, the product has been shaped to resemble a woman's breasts. As a result, a father can hold his baby in both of his arms, creating a deeper skin ship between them and enabling the baby to sleep peacefully in his father's arms. Father's Nursing Assistant has a tank for milk on one side and the breastfeeding system on the other. The device also senses the infant's breastfeeding and sleep timing and is linked to an app that facilitates a better, visual understanding of the infant's condition.
Archie Lee Williams, Jr. (41) of Brunswick County, North Carolina, has been charged with 73 felony counts of taking 216 Venus Flytrap plants. He could face 450 years in prison and is being held on a $750,000 bond.
From Port City Daily:
The tiny carnivorous plant is listed as a “vulnerable” species on the state’s protected plants list. Environmentalists and officers tasked with protecting the plant from poachers cited difficulty in the past with identifying whether the plants were grown or poached.
According to the Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC), Williams was caught on camera. He was later apprehended with over 200 plants and digging tools. Williams admitted to a WRC officer that he habitually poaches Venus Flytraps from multiple locations around the area.
Interestingly, while it is illegal to take Venus Flytraps from public land, developers can destroy the plants with impunity.
Image of Venus Flytrap: Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova/Shutterstock Read the rest “Man faces 450 years in prison for poaching Venus Flytraps”
The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
I read William Gibson's Neuromancer for the first time in 1985. I bought a copy at the San Francisco State University bookstore (Carla was attending college there and I was working at Memorex/Burrough in nearby Santa Clara as a mechanical engineer) after we went to a talk by Timothy Leary and he raved about it.
It's probably safe to say that without Neuromancer, Carla and I might not have ever started the bOING bOING zine in 1987, because the novel was hugely influential on the way we thought about technology and society.
Neuromancer is on sale on Amazon in the Kindle edition for a very low price right now. Get it before the price goes back up. Read the rest “Kindle edition of Neuromancer at steep discount”
YouTuber PewDiePie has more subscribers than anyone else on the network, and some of his rabid fans have released at least two ransomware strains that encrypt hard drives and display a notice that informs victims that a decryption key will be made available only when PewDiePie's account gets 100 million subscribers. One of the ransomware strains also warned victims that if, at any time, the Indian Bollywood channel T-Series gets more subscribers than PewDiePie, the decryption key will not be released.
From ZD Net:
Read the rest “PewDiePie fan unleashes ransomware that encrypts hard drives until he gets 100M subscribers”
Its author eventually realized the world of trouble he'd get into if any of those victims filed complaints with authorities, and released the ransomware's source code on GitHub, along with a command-line-based decryption tool.
Yesterday, the team at Emsisoft released their own decrypter app based on these two tools, meaning victims can recover files without having to wait months until PewDiePie reached 100 million subscribers.
Both ransomware strains show the level of idiocy the competition for YouTube's top spot has reached. While T-Series fans have remained mostly quiet most of this time, a portion of PewDiePie's fans appears to have lost their minds and engaged in media stunts bordering on criminal behavior.
They've defaced sites, taken over printers, and hijacked thousands of Chromecasts and smart TVs to spew out messages of support and the now-classical "subscribe to PewDiePie."
The message itself has become a meme, and not in a good way.
Having traveled to Europe and Japan many times, I've grown to appreciate bidets. It's a shame they aren't commonplace in the US. Here's a cheap one on Amazon. It's really easy to install. It doesn't have warm water jet like a Japanese toilet, but you'll get used to it. Read the rest “Easy-to-install bidet is a game changer”
In The New York Times, Mike Isaac explains why newsletters are a better way of communicating than Facebook and Twitter.
For me, the change has happened slowly but the reasons for it were unmistakable. Every time I was on Twitter, I felt worse. I worried about being too connected to my phone, too wrapped up in the latest Twitter dunks. A colleague created his own digital detox program to reduce his smartphone addiction. I reckon he made the right choice.
Now, when I feel the urge to tweet an idea that I think is worth expounding on, I save it for my newsletter, The Dump (an accurate description of what spills out of my head). It’s much more fun than mediating political fights between relatives on my Facebook page or decoding the latest Twitter dust-up.
I agree with Mike. Platforms like Google, Facebook, and Twitter control every aspect of your communication. As centralized proprietary platforms, they own your content and your audience. They can deplatform you with the push of a button and permanently cut you off from a readership or viewership you've spent years to cultivate. With a newsletter, you have the email addresses of all your subscribers. Newsletters are so much better than Facebook I'm surprised Zuckerberg isn't lobbying Congress to ban them.
Speaking of newsletters, you should check out Boing Boing's newsletter! I also have a couple of newsletters you might be interested in: Recomendo, a weekly newsletter with 6 short tips and recommendations, and Book Freak, a weekly newsletter with useful quotations from books I've read. Read the rest “Why newsletters are the best form of social media: “You don’t have to fight an algorithm to reach your audience””
According to this video and article from by The Atlantic, most of the wasabi eaten around the world is horseradish with green food coloring in it. Shigeo Iida, a 75-year-old farmer in Japan, grows the real stuff, and in this beautifully shot video, we get to see him harvest wasabi and make wasabi paste while he waxes philosophical. “Real wasabi, like the ones we grow, has a unique, fragrant taste that first hits the nose,” he says. “The sweetness comes next, followed finally by spiciness.”
Image: YouTube/The Atlantic Read the rest “Short video about life on a Japanese wasabi farm”
Mike Monteiro, co-founder and design director of Mule Design, has a new book called Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It. He posted a sample chapter from the?book, about Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand's influence on Silicon Valley. He's a funny writer!
Welcome to Silicon Valley. A libertarian stronghold at the very end of America. (Literally.) Silicon Valley, and specifically the venture capital firms of Silicon Valley, are mostly run by old white men who read Ayn Rand in high school, thought it was great, and never changed their minds. (This is where I need to be fair and let you know that not all venture capitalists are monsters. In fact, I’m friends with a few who are lovely people. They are very much the exceptions. Also, every VC who reads this book will think this parenthetical is about them.) In the words of the late great Ann Richards, they were, “born on third base and think they hit a triple.”
For those of you not familiar with Ayn Rand, she wrote crappy books about the power of individual achievement while she collected social security and started some pseudo-philosophy called “objectivism”, which can be summed up in five words: I got mine, fuck you. The old white men of Silicon Valley all have giant Ayn Rand back tattoos. (Look, it’s a chapter about venture capitalism inside an ethics book. I gotta tell a joke once in a while, for all our benefit.)
Image: Ruined by Design Read the rest “"Ayn Rand is a Dick" - excerpt from a new book by Mike Monteiro”
I use lots of Google products (Chrome, Gmail, Gcal, YouTube, and Google itself) and like them, but I'm wary of using new Google projects because the company has a history of releasing something, allowing a user base to grow, then yanking the rug out from under everyone by killing the project. This site shows 147 dead Google projects. I miss Google Reader, and will miss Google URL Shortener, Inbox, and even Google+. Read the rest “Look at all the dead projects in this Google Graveyard”
I just ordered this 6-pack of Lightning charging cables for a very low price using promo code VW2PVZLM. You get 3-foot, 6-foot, and 10-foot cables (2 of each). The reviews are very positive (though it's always hard to tell how many are shills). I'm not sure how they can be MFi certified at this price, but its worth buying to find out. Read the rest “6-pack of supposedly MFi certified Lightning charging cables for cheap”
Mark your calendars for April 11 - that's when Black Summer starts streaming.
Set in the dark, early days of a zombie apocalypse, Black Summer stars Jaime King as Rose, a mother torn from her daughter who embarks upon a harrowing journey to find her. Thrust alongside a small group of American refugees, these complete strangers must find the strength they need to fight their way back to loved ones. But in order for Rose and her team to brave this hostile new world, they will need to make brutal decisions to contend with zombies - and each other.
It looks like they're fast zombies.
Image: YouTube Read the rest “Trailer for a new Zombie series on Netflix: Black Summer”
This TV commercial for prunes (directed by Stan Freberg) stars Ray Bradbury, who keeps insisting he never mentioned prunes in any of his stories. I like the futuristic home with the people-moving tubes and the giant television screen, though I was nervous that Malcolm McDowell and his droogs were going to waltz into the front door at any second and cause trouble.
[via r/ObscureMedia] Read the rest “This is a 1960s TV commercial for prunes starring Ray Bradbury”
The Bowery Lodge is the cheapest hotel in Manhattan. At $45 a night, the Chinatown hotel costs about 1/5th the average price for a hotel room in Manhattan. In this video, a checked into the Bowery Lodge to learn what it's like to spend a night there. It's a tiny room with no furniture other than a bed and a bedside table. There's no window and it was hot and stuffy when the guy stayed there. The bathroom is down the hall.
At the end of the video, the guy says, "So I'm sitting here editing this video, two days later, and I've noticed that I have these red welts all over my arm and legs and they itch like crazy. Another one on my finger..."
[via Doobybrain] Read the rest “What it is like to spend a night at the cheapest hotel in Manhattan?”
Massimiliano Fedriga, a member of Italy's far-right League party, is dead-set against the country's mandatory vaccination laws. Guess who contracted chickenpox and had to spend four days in the hospital? Read the rest “Politician who opposed mandatory chickenpox vaccine has been hospitalized after getting chickenpox”