I dig these minimalist paintings by Ryan Crotty, and am gonna try to visit the NYC gallery to see them IRL. “Chickens Prefer Attractive People.” Nearly half the times we open our phones to use an app, it’s one created by Facebook or Google. Why it’s good to play video games with your kids. A fabulous example of octopus color-and-shape-changing. The corporate slogans of CES are a study in awfulness. How Charles Schulz introduced the first black character into Peanuts. Training a neural net to classify online articles as either “news” or “not-news”. A gorgeous photographic tour of one of America’s last pencil factories. And my latest Boing Boing posts: i) the history of “badday.mpg”, one of the Internet’s first viral videos; ii) logic gates made purely from rods and levers; and iii) a study finds municipal broadband is up to 50% cheaper than comparable telco service.
Hand-knit sweater camouflage. This is big: NASA discovers there’s a lot of easy-to-access ice on Mars. A computer language where you code in Filipino. A twitterbot that tweets whenever the New York Times uses a word for the first time. An analog split-flap display that I want sooooo bad. Why UV-sensing tech might encourage us to get more sun, not less. A superb thread on Trump’s “s**thole” comment, and its deep historical context. How to make an anonymous, collaborative Google spreadsheet. How to fold a circle into an ellipse. A flower that never blooms. And … my latest Boing Boing posts: i) The secret physics behind the ultrablack feathers of “birds of paradise”; ii) Frankenstein considered as a novel about climate catastrophe; iii) a study finds that ocean waves can hurl ashore boulders 2.5X the weight of the Statue of Liberty.
A book of photos of things organized neatly. Yet another weird signal from space, which quite certainly isn’t aliens even though wow yeah isn’t that precisely what the heat-signature of an interstellar spacecraft would look like? How Leibniz tried to create a 17th-century machine that would calculate pure reason. A set of robot hands that listen to your speech, autotranscribe it, then type it out on a manual typewriter. I’m gonna build this Arduino-powered stompbox and program it to deliver a different random effect every time you step on it. What’s it like to be a bee? Being curious about science may make you more open to changing your mind politically. Meditation glasses.
A artist who takes modern domestic objects and wraps them in needlepoint. A tiny, USB-mountable computer. Behold Sunday Magazine, which each week posts “the most interesting articles from the New York Times Sunday Magazine from exactly 100 years ago, with a little bit of commentary or context.” According to a Facebook study, people who use the Internet a lot are less likely to click on spam. Ancient rock art may have captured a supernova that was visible during the day. On the delightful readability of 1980s-era BASIC programs. I notice a curious phenomenon — that when I’m reading deeply on my phone, I often forget it is a phone — and a good Twitter discussion emerges. And my latest Boing Boing posts: i) A 3d-printable “measuring cube” for cooking; ii) a terrific piece on the “stowaway” craze of the 1920s; iii) in the 1970s, the CIA created a tiny dragonfly-shaped drone to fly around as a remote spy microphone; iv) what it’s like mining bitcoins by hand, with pencil and paper; v) Blackbeard’s pirates apparently enjoyed reading novels; and vi) this gentleman has figured out how to use the data from his rooftop solar panels as a crude way to photograph the nearby landscape.
A 1924 New York Times story on “The 4,000 Most Essential Words” a foreigner must know to become a US citizen. (It’s on page 140. From the ms: “Milliner, million, mind”.) Why do we have pom-pom balls on our winter hats? A slightly different Fire and Fury becomes a bestseller. The current use of “Clive” in English-language books, according to Google’s ngram, is slightly below the historical mean. An analysis finds that Haskell is disproportionately a language coders learn for fun on the weekend. “Blattidae”, “chandala”, “chrestomathy”: H.L. Mencken had an epically wide-ranging vocabulary. Ophthalmologists who were trained in art observation became better at their jobs.
After seeing this awesome XKCD strip, Julia Slige created a little script to generate “new sports from random emoji”. Behold Darkwire, a web site that generates on-the-fly encrypted chat-rooms. How people who are actually smart think, and talk, about themselves. Using a metaphor of waiters and wine to understand the huge new chip insecurity. Mining cryptocurrency in the dorm room. The Center for the Study of Existential Risk releases a video-game mod that simulates the rise of killer AI. It turns out that humans might be immune to the protein that allows for CRISPR genome editing. Cool: Listly.io is a tool that scrapes web sites and puts their content into a spreadsheet. More ridiculously great news about the plunging cost of renewable energy. Why it’s so hard to predict the size of a dump of snowfall. And my latest Boing Boing posts: i) How the American healthcare resembles a post-apocalyptic landscape, ii) an eight-year-old boy discovers data suggesting that wild pigs mourn their dead, and iii) how to preserve a snowflake for decades.
The recent rise of coulrophobia — the fear of clowns. (Via @TSchnoebelen) The “heart gambit” was a proposal to embed the nuclear codes in a capsule inside the chest of a White House staffer; to launch a strike, any president would have to kill the staffer themselves first and extract it. A “snow day calculator.” It’s 110 pounds in weight and 16 feet across, on average: Behold the newest species of octopus to be discovered, the “frilled giant pacific”. (Via @harryallen) How adding iodine to US salt may have have boosted the IQ of Americans. There’s an uncanny valley for food, something I once wrote a column about for Wired. The path to $100 LIDAR, or, self-driving everything. Piano hacking.
A new NASA project would land a quadracopter on Titan, Saturn’s biggest moon. A fidget spinner turned into a brushless motor. “Enjoy screens. Not too much. Mostly with others.” “Fifteen Minutes of Unwanted Fame”, an analysis of doxing. An acoustic analysis finds that Botswana appears to have the most unique music in the world. What it’s like adopting an electric bike as your main mode of transport. A study finds that people who know more about how journalism is produced are less likely to believe in conspiracy theories. A piece in praise of American infrastructure. “Hidden camera captures rare pig thought extinct” is a pretty great headline. D’Arcy Thompson’s Victorian quest to answer the question, “are all fish the same shape if you stretch them?”
Hacking a Furby Connect. Meet the men who are convinced we live in a simulation. Smartphone keyboards designed specifically for coding, Android and iOS. An online tool that translates a MIDI file into JSON; very useful for a project I’m currently working on. How video games harness the Zeigarnik Effect. Belgium’s aesthetically gorgeous telegram service is finally shutting down. “Aerial transit will be accomplished because the air is a solid if you hit it hard enough”: The final sentence from the 1894 book The Problem of Manflight. It turns out that “Classic Nintendo Games are (NP-)Hard”. We’re getting closer to cracking the secret of how porpoise sonar works. Google’s new voice-synthesis is unsettlingly lifelike.
Why are there so many shots of power lines in anime? I confess I’m probably going to blow money on this heat-regulating coffee mug. Why shame doesn’t scale. When we participate in surveys, we may overstate our negative feelings. Frankenstein was published in a small anonymous edition of 500 copies; it became famous because of theatrical adaptations a few years later. A self-propelled nose-wheel for airplanes could dramatically reduce their energy use while taxiing. “I Pretended To Be Emily Dickinson on an Online Dating Site.” A 2,000-year-old twenty-sided die. My old piece on “how to tell when a robot has written you a letter” — inside the world of automated generation of pen-written letters. Behold Radio.garden, a fun globe you can spin and tune into live radio broadcasts from around the world. How to build a new internet.