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The Latest from Boing Boing

New York's rat population has genetically diverged into "uptown" and "downtown" subspecies

Matthew Combs, a Fordham University Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station grad student worked with colleagues from Fordham and the Providence College Department of Biology to sequence the genomes of brown rats in Manhattan, and made a surprising discovery: the geography of rats has a genetic correlation, so a geneticist can tell where a rat was born and raised by analyzing its DNA. (more…)

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Christmas is under attack: vandals steal Satanic Temple's tree-topper from San Jose's Christmas in the Park event

Christmas is under attack! The Satanic Temple was one of the many faith organizations who applied to put a tree at the record-breaking Christmas in the Park event in San Jose, an event that in no way abridged the separation of Church and State because it allowed any religion to participate. (more…)

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Republicans destroyed Oklahoma with billionaire/corporate tax cuts and got killed in the following election

A toxic mix of voter suppression and dark money infusions has allowed Republicans to seize power at the state level across America, producing a series of living labs where their ideology has been allowed to play out with disastrous consequences. (more…)

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Guillotine watch: The executives who bankrupted Toys R Us this year want $16M-$32M in bonuses for their performance

Toys R Us was taken over in a debt-loading act of financial engineering in 2005; over the years, despite turning a profit, the service on that debt dragged Toys R Us lower and lower until the management team picked by the financial engineers finally bankrupted the company. (more…)

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Bake: hand-pies with three-dimensional decorations

Carbohydrate whisperer Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin (AKA @thePieous) (previously), author of Pies Are Awesome Vol 1 "Pie-Modding": How to Epic-Up Store Bought Pies and Be the Hero of the Party" writes "I've come up with a way of making hand pies in silicone molds that solves the big problems associated with making pies this way - primarily lack of control over the finish and texture. I make a double layer of dough with egg in between the layers, then do a partial bake in the mold juuuuuust long enough for it to retain its shape outside, and then add a very thin layer of extra decorations and complete the bake."

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A smartphone-shaped fidget-gadget to soothe your instinctive need for stimulus

Viennese artist Klemens Schillinger created these "Substitute Phones" as fidget toys with kinetic worry-beads that you can stroke and fondle when your conditioned reflex to reach for a distraction rectangle kicks in; the beads are set in channels that allow you to replicate smart-phone gestures like unlock, swipe right, and pinch-zoom. (via Red Ferret) (more…)

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How to overcome your fear of public speaking

Even when your audience is small enough to fit inside a conference room, presentations can be absolutely nerve-wracking. If you get physically nauseous at the sight of a podium, check out this public speaking course in the Boing Boing Store.

With this 16-hour workshop, you’ll discover a wealth of strategies to build engaging speeches and exude confidence. Aside from refining your body language and delivery, you’ll learn how to appropriately tailor your talks and identify with everyone who’s watching. It includes several exercises that you can practice ahead of time to focus your brain, as well as some handy PowerPoint slide templates.

Whether you’re a nervous lecturer, or just have a job that involves frequent client pitch meetings, the Complete Presentation and Public Speaking Course will help you feel more comfortable. You can get lifetime access to this professional training for $15 from the Boing Boing Store.

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Woodworker carves a 'Christmas Story' leg lamp based on his own leg

YouTuber craftsman Paul Jackman fashioned his own "major award" a la A Christmas Story, a "manly" leg lamp based on his own leg's measurements. It's really quite impressive.

He writes:

This leg is an exact full scale model of my own leg. The leg and base are made from maple butcher block scraps from previous projects. The lamp shade is welded from scrap lengths of rebar and wrapped in pleather attached using paracord that looks like Carolina's boot laces. The boot is attached using a threaded brass lamp rod through the entire leg with a nut on both ends. There are also a couple of screws into the toe of the boot/foot.

By the way, if you're not super crafty like Mr. Jackman and want a leg lamp for your very own, the A Christmas Story House & Museum in Cleveland, Ohio has full-sized replicas of the original for sale. The downside? It won't be shaped like your own leg.


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Watch this 120-year old mechanical organ play a song

Martin Molin traveled to Speelklok Museum in Utrecht for a demonstration of the Gavioli Dance Organ, part of his wonderful series on old-timey mechanical instruments. (more…)

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Enjoy a relaxing AI lullaby written by our future robot overlords

If you teach an artificial intelligence a bunch of lullabies, will the resulting AI-generated lullaby make you dream of electric sheep? (more…)

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LA Peeps: Don't miss Allee Willis' campy 'Love N' Latkes' show

Heads up! The reigning Queen of Kitsch, Allee Willis, is hosting three live Christmas/Hanukkah mashup "party performance" shows in Studio City later this week.

She writes:

It is with great pleasure that I announce my craziest in-the-best-sense-of-the-word nuts live show yet! For 3 big nights - Nov. 30-Dec. 2 - the party rages on at Allee Willis’ Love ’N Latkes Chanukah Christmas Shopping (and Singing and Comedy) Extravaganza Show! An ALL NEW "one-woman + Andrae” party performance featuring hit songs (I was just nominated for the Songwriters Hall of Fame so you know they’re great hits!), sing-alongs, the least appropriate stories a songwriter could tell, and, oh yeah, not just an auction of supreme flea finds but the greatest early holiday gift shopping in the whole wide Kitsch world!!

That’s right! For the first time ever, I’ll be opening the vaults and auctioning off treasures from my own world-renowned personal Kitsch, Pop, and Soul collection!

Tickets to all three shows (Thursday 11/30, Friday 12/1, and Saturday 12/2) are available now. Her shows always sell out so, if you're thinking of going, grab tickets now. Read the rest...
Fancy it up with this silver spork

Inspired by my friend Veek, I now carry a titanium spork in my purse. Now, when I'm eating out and plastic flatware is the only option, I don't have to use it. Don't judge, it doubles as a tiny rake and/or an emergency backscratcher.

Today, for some reason, I sat here wondering if sterling silver sporks exist. They do! In fact, Mark posted about one back in 2010 that was cast from a plastic Taco Bell spork. Brilliant, but it doesn't seem to be for sale.

However, I did find one for sale on Etsy. Jewelry designer Matthew White of Brooklyn makes solid silver sporks for $120 each.

He writes:

This is a solid sterling silver spork. This spork is cast from a plastic spork so it had the feel and look of plastic silverware with the strength, longevity, class of silver. The dichotomy of wealth within this piece we be a wonderful addition and conversation starter at any dinner party.

It's getting fancy up in here.

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Soaps that look like food

Artist Rochelle Javier makes soap carvings that look good enough to eat. But don't, because they're soap. (more…) Read the rest...
San Francisco Board of Supervisors rules that if you're rich enough to own a private sidewalk, you don't have to worry about overdue taxes

Presidio Terrace is a private, gated street in San Francisco that has housed the likes of Nancy Pelosi and the UK Consul General; their neighborhood association failed to notify the city of San Francisco that they'd changed contact addresses for tax bills related to their private street and sidewalks, so after years of delinquency, their street, sidewalks, trees, and assorted miscellanea were put up for auction and purchased by out-of-town property speculators for the sum of $90,100. (more…)

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I found the best "bad Peppa Pig" video on YouTube

It has been noted of late that YouTube is full of bizarre, malicious and outright depraved viral chum based on childrens' entertainment. Often difficult to tell at-a-glance from the real thing, they crudely subject popular characters such as superheroes, Disney Princesses and Peppa Pig to algorithmically-generated trauma scenarios. YouTube, shamed into action after being exposed feeding this stuff to kids via the discovery sidebar, launched a massive crackdown, banning accounts and removing thousands of videos.

So don't expect this perfect (and safe for work) example to stay up much longer.

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The Credible Hulk: Ajit Pai thinks you only care about Net Neutrality because Mark Ruffalo told you to

"Taking away #NetNeutrality is the Authoritarian dream. Consolidating information into the hands of a few controlled by a few. Dangerous territory". @MarkRuffalo; Ajit Pai: "These comments are absurd. Getting rid of government authority over the Internet is the exact opposite of authoritarianism. Government control is the defining feature of authoritarians, including the one in North Korea."

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Prismatic Lazy Glasses actually work, pretty much

I can't remember quite how I came to be in possession of a pair of these Prismatic Lazy Glasses (Amazon), but the most shocking thing about them is they actually work. You put them on, lie down completely prone, and can see at a 90° angle: perfect for watching TV (or reading) in bed without sitting up or craning one's neck.

The effect is not perfect. They create tunnel vision, and the imperfect build quality of the glasses and presumably the mirrors results in more eye strain that you'd normally experience. (Though certainly less than I experience with VR)

Whether eye strain wipes out the advantage of bodily relaxation is for you to decide; my only problem is falling asleep during practically everything.

Note that the link here is to a well-reviewed model from Amazon I assume is identical to the pair I have. I can't imagine there are vast quality differences between different brands of $10 lazy specs, but you never know.

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Drumming in sync to Boomhauer

David Dockery perfoms drums in perfect synchrony to the mutterings of Jeff Boomhauer from King of the Hill. Over the course of 66 seconds I went from almost closing the tab to startled fascination to profound revelation at Dockery's unimaginable talent.

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Voyagers: David Pescovitz, Tim Daly and Lawrence Azerrad nominated for Grammy award

Boing Boing editor and founding partner David Pescovitz, with colleagues Tim Daly and Lawrence Azerrad, was nominated this week to receive a Grammy Award. It's for their work on reissuing the legendary Golden Record that accompanied the Voyager probe into space, which turned into one of 2016's blockbuster Kickstarter campaigns and can now be ordered directly from Ozma records.

They're competing in the Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package category, against Tim Breen, Tom Hingston and other art directors.

What's on the Golden Record? 120 images, a "sound poem" of Earth, greetings in many languages, and a heavenly playlist:

1. Greeting from Kurt Waldheim, Secretary-General of the United Nations 2. Greetings in 55 Languages 3. United Nations Greetings/Whale Songs 4. The Sounds of Earth 5. Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047: I. Allegro (Johann Sebastian Bach) - Munich Bach Orchestra/Karl Richter 6. Ketawang: Puspåwårnå (Kinds of Flowers) - Pura Paku Alaman Palace Orchestra/K.R.T. Wasitodipuro 7. Cengunmé - Mahi musicians of Benin 8. Alima Song - Mbuti of the Ituri Rainforest 9. Barnumbirr (Morning Star) and Moikoi Song - Tom Djawa, Mudpo, and Waliparu 10. El Cascabel (Lorenzo Barcelata) - Antonio Maciel and Los Aguilillas with Mariachi México de Pepe Villa/Rafael Carrión 11. Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry 12. Mariuamangɨ - Pranis Pandang and Kumbui of the Nyaura Clan 13. Sokaku-Reibo (Depicting the Cranes in Their Nest) - Goro Yamaguchi 14. Partita for Violin Solo No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006: III. Gavotte en Rondeau (Johann Sebastian Bach) - Arthur Grumiaux 15. The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte), K. 620, Act II: Hell’s Vengeance Boils in My Heart (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) - Bavarian State Opera Orchestra and Chorus/Wolfgang Sawallisch 16. Chakrulo - Georgian State Merited Ensemble of Folk Song and Dance/Anzor Kavsadze 17. Roncadoras and Drums - Musicians from Ancash 18. Melancholy Blues (Marty Bloom/Walter Melrose) - Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven 19. Muğam - Kamil Jalilov 20. The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps), Part II—The Sacrifice: VI. Sacrificial Dance (The Chosen One) (Igor Stravinsky) - Columbia Symphony Orchestra/Igor Stravinsky 21. The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II: Prelude & Fugue No. 1 in C Major, BWV 870 (Johann Sebastian Bach) - Glenn Gould 22. Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Opus 67: I. Allegro Con Brio (Ludwig Van Beethoven) - Philharmonia Orchestra/Otto Klemperer 23. Izlel e Delyu Haydutin - Valya Balkanska 24. Navajo Night Chant, Yeibichai Dance - Ambrose Roan Horse, Chester Roan, and Tom Roan 25. The Fairie Round (Anthony Holborne) - Early Music Consort of London/David Munrow 26. Naranaratana Kookokoo (The Cry of the Megapode Bird) - Maniasinimae and Taumaetarau Chieftain Tribe of Oloha and Palasu’u Village Community in Small Malaita 27. Wedding Song - Young girl of Huancavelica 28. Liu Shui (Flowing Streams) - Guan Pinghu 29. Bhairavi: Jaat Kahan Ho - Kesarbai Kerkar 30. Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground - Blind Willie Johnson 31. String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, Opus 130: V. Cavatina (Ludwig Van Beethoven) - Budapest String Quartet
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Comcast flushed its 3 year old net neutrality promise down the memory hole the instant the FCC announced its plan to allow network discrimination

Comcast fought the last net neutrality regulation in 2015 by making a bunch of promises about how fair it would be, whether or not the FCC regulated its behavior; this week, Comcast has put on charm offensive by repeating all but one of those promises, namely, its promise not to create internet slow lanes and then extort money from web publishers by threatening to put them there unless they paid for "premium access" to the Comcast subscribers who were trying to retrieve data from them. (more…)

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Diesel Sweeties pins: I want to believe in RSS and Computers Professional

From the delightful R Stevens of Diesel Sweeties fame, a pair of excellent enamel pins: Computers Professional ($11.33) and I want to believe in RSS ($11.55).

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Net Neutrality is just for starters: municipal networks are the path to paradise

We just bought a house here in Burbank and I was delighted to learn that my new home office -- part of a business incorporated in the state of California -- would be sitting directly on one of the scorching-fast fiber optic likes that the city of Burbank maintains to wire up Disney, Warners and the other major businesses in town. Finally, an end to my long nightmare of slow, balky internet from Charter/Spectrum, my local cable monopolist! (more…)

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YouTube's demonetization codes sleuthed out in HTML

YouTube's advertisers now want to choose what subject matters and personalities to advertise against. So far, so fair. But rather than be straight about this, YouTube conceals this reality behind an opaque and mechanically indifferent monetization system that seems designed to generate as much ignorance, entitlement and resentment as possible.

A researcher, however, has sleuthed out metadata buried in the source code of YouTube video pages. These, they claim, offer clues about why certain videos are "demonetized" or deprecated in search results -- reasons that YouTube has not been keen to disclose or detail.

Here's their paper. Without further ado:

102: profanity
104: sexually suggestive content
109: sensational and shocking
113: tragedy and conflict
115: Sensitive social issues (controversial, guns, etc)

P.S. The video embedded here is from the researchers, but the one most folks are learning about it from is this unwatchable YouTube viral chum nightmare padded out to nine numbing minutes -- a perfect "non-political" example of why advertisers are demanding more control over what they advertise against.

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A visit to a secret Nintendo bar in an undisclosed location in Japan

Tofugu's Kanae Nakamine and Koichi went to a secret bar in Japan (somewhere) called 84. Koichi told me, "Its main customers are musicians, celebrities, comedians, pro wrestlers, game creators, and Nintendo employees. And only vetted members know its location / can get in."

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Sci-fi short film - "Orbit Ever After"

Dust is a YouTube channel featuring science fiction short films from emerging filmmakers. Its latest film is called "Orbit Ever After."

Directed by Jamie Magnus Stone and set in the recesses of space on a ramshackle space hovel, Orbit Ever After details the trials of Nigel played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game of Thrones, Love Actually, Phinneas and Ferb, Maze Runner) and The Girl, two star-crossed lovers separated by miles of distance, oppositional orbit patterns and Nigel’s risk-averse family.

After several fly bys, waves and glances through telescopes, The Girl finally gets a message to Nigel asking him to take a literal leap of faith and make the jump to her spacecraft during the next passing, leaving Nigel to make the ultimate decision between love and family…

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A panda who was "really, really, ridiculously good at sex" brought the species back from the brink of extinction, but things are still weird

Pan Pan is a panda who was rescued from starvation in the wild when he was a cub, in 1986. Since then, he has gone on to father 120 of the 520 pandas alive in captivity. (more…)

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Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren introduce a bill to provide $146B in aid to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

As vulture capitalists and profiteers circle the devastation in America's hurricane-struck island colonies, the Trump administration has nothing for them but more loans to pile onto their existing, crippling debt (even as affected mainland cities where more white people live get direct government aid). (more…)

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This is one reason why laser printers are better than inkjets - supercheap cartridges

Unless you really love crappy color printouts, get rid of your inkjet printer and buy a cheap wireless laser printer, like this one: the Brother HL-L2340DW Compact Laser Printer. I've had a similar one for years and the best thing about it is the cheap 3rd party toner cartridges. I buy them using Amazon Prime. Here's a 2-pack for $11. I've never had an incompatibility, leakage, or smearing problem with this brand.

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