Boing Boing

A compendium of bizarre fictional Victoriana

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

They say that truth is stranger than fiction, so that may explain why The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities almost fooled me into believing it’s real. Were it not for the authors being well-known fiction writers – writers like Alan Moore, China Mieville, Cherie Priest, Helen Oyeyemi – I would have considered this a legitimate study of an eccentric, pseudoscientific collection of oddities. Even the introduction, which gives the history of Mr. Lambshead in a completely deadpan tone, in no way gives away the “joke” that everything is fiction.

Essentially, this compendium of bizarre fictional Victoriana brings together more than 50 of the most talented writers and artists of modern fantasy and weird fiction in a collection of the odd, esoteric, and occasionally frightening. Some pieces are written like a museum catalog, while others are stories “inspired” by the collection. The creators have taken full advantage of a long history of eccentric Victorian collectors and unbelievable inventions to assemble a cabinet in book form, stuffed to the brim with curiosities that may only exist in the imagination, and yet feel strangely real.

The stunning yet bizarre imagery sprinkled throughout the book mirrors the various styles of illustration, printmaking, and early photography that would have been found in the kind of 19th-century tome Cabinet takes as a model, reinforcing the otherworldly feeling of reading a history book from an alternate universe, where automatons educate our children and gorillas are raised by crocodiles in the sewer. – Amber Troska

The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities
by Ann Vandermeer and Jeff Vandermeer
2012, 320 pages, 7 x 9.5 x 1 inches (softcover)
From $35 Buy a copy on Amazon

UN panel determines Assange "arbitrarily detained"

A UN panel has concluded that Julian Assange is being "arbitrarily detained," reports the BBC

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012, knowing that he will be arrested if he leaves. Originally detained in connection to rape and sexual assault claims out of Sweden, Assange says the claims are false and crafted to disrupt his whistleblowing work.

Downing Street said the panel's ruling would not be legally binding in the UK while a European Arrest Warrant remained in place.

"We have been consistently clear that Mr Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK but is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy," he added.

"The UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden." The Swedish foreign ministry said in a statement that it noted the UN panel's decision "differs from that of the Swedish authorities".

Twitter joke sparks rape threats

In December, Comedian Alison Leiby tweeted, "As a woman, I just hope that one day I have as many rights as a gun does." After a popular conservative Twitter account retweeted it, some people who disagreed with her thought the appropriate response was threatening to rape her.

From Medium

Somewhere along the way an account with a large and conservative following retweeted it, an action that flooded my notifications page with people calling me “stupid” or a “moron” or, one of my personal favorites, a “retarded liberal.” Fine.

Last Monday evening, however, the replies went from annoying and insulting to violent and threatening. Men were replying to me and taking my joke to a horrific, new place. Some said they wanted to ban me from public places and silence me. Others said they wanted to lock me in their closet when they’re done with me. A few choice gentlemen suggested I, like their gun, have a “rough brush clean my holes.” If you want a tour of how hateful and negative humanity can be about women, just scroll through the replies to my original joke. It’s kind of like the It’s A Small World ride, but instead of different countries you just see different expressions of misogyny. As Leiby points out, "If you don’t like the taste of fish, you wouldn’t go to a restaurant, order the trout, and then call the chef a stupid bitch for serving it to you. So why do people do it on the Internet?"

As a woman, I just hope that one day I have as many rights as a gun does.

— Alison Leiby (@AlisonLeiby) December 17, 2015

Bunnie Huang's "Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen"

Bunnie has a years of experience partnering with manufacturers in Shenzhen, so he knows what he's talking about. This looks like a fantastic resource for hardware entrepreneurs.

Bunnie Huang, the infamous hardware hacker known for reverse engineering the XBox and the Novena, is publishing “The Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen.” He started a crowdfunding campaign on Crowd Supply yesterday and it soared past its goal of $10K (at $35/ copy) in less than 24 hours.

This is a must-have guide for any hardware startup founder, maker, or IoT developer looking to China to manufacture. With Overcoming the language barrier is one of the keys to unlocking the market’s full potential, and this book’s point-to-translate format enables a fluidity of interaction with market vendors that no translation app or guide book can match.

"Going to Shenzhen, China is a massive enabler for Makers, hackers, and entrepreneurs alike. The Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen is the book I wish I had when I first stepped foot into China a decade ago.” - bunnie

Pharma price-gouger Martin Shkreli smirks at Congress, refuses to answer questions

Summoned to a congressional hearing into price-gouging, entrepreneur Martin Shkreli smirked, dodged and insulted those before him, even when all they wanted to talk about was Wu-Tang Clan.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen the committee treated with such contempt,’’ Representative John Mica, a Florida Republican, said after Mr. Shkreli was excused and left the room. Mr. Mica asked if Mr. Shkreli could be held in contempt of Congress. The committee chairman, Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, said he did not intend to do so. The theatrics surrounding Mr. Shkreli’s appearance, which included his smirking at some remarks by committee members, overshadowed some of the more substantial discussion about huge overnight price increases in the prices of old drugs by Turing and another company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.

Shkreli famously raised the price of a generic medication 800%, knowing that it would take years for other companies to get products approved. He was recently arrested on unrelated fraud charges and released on bond, thereby justifying his use of a phrase — "On the advice of councel… I respectfully decline" — used seemingly to mock his interrogators today.

Save 96% on the Python Programming Bootcamp bundle

How do Google and YouTube really work? It turns out, Python kind of runs things around those parts. And with this bootcamp, you’ll get whipped into shape and ready to start programming yourself. Whether you’re a Python pro and just want to sharpen your skills, or a total tech newbie with little or no coding experience, this pack of courses that’s now 96% off will walk you through the Python maze from the basics to expert level. Hope you’re not afraid of snakes.

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Right now you can get the Python Programming Bootcamp bundle for 96% off in the Boing Boing Store.

Snow artist stomps awesome fractals with just his two snowshoes

Skier and snow artist Simon Beck stomps around in the snow for 11 hours or more to make each of his beautiful fractal snow art masterpieces. He has to walk around 25 or 30 miles to stamp a design of about 100 meters square, using only his two snowshoes. It began as a form of exercise, and has become far more.

From The Finch and Pea:

For more than a decade, Beck has made elaborate designs in snow, mainly in the French Alps, using only snowshoes and a compass. He started out making mandala-like circular shapes, but moved on to much more complex designs over the years. Beck told Discovery News that he started incorporating fractal patterns into his work after reading James Gleick’s book “Chaos: Making a New Science.”

More images at the artist's website and on Facebook.

About the image below, he explains: The first attempt to draw the dragon made for Baslev's movie DRAKONY, in Siberia (Yakutsk) in October 2015. This was rejected as I had used a bit too much artistic licence and not drawn accurately enough according to the sketch I had been given!

[caption id="attachment_446496" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Mandelbrot Set in progress[/caption]

[Via Smithsonian Magazine]