Mark Abel’s The Dream Gallery: Seven California Portraits

Charles says:

Screen Shot 2012-03-19 At 3.37.00 Pm Mark Abel is a former rock musician and studio engineer who has bravely chosen to join an endangered species: He is a modern composer of serious music. “Serious” however does not mean “atonal” or “boring” or “hard to listen to” in his case. His most recent release, The Dream Gallery, is extremely beautiful, with haunting melodies and lyrics sung by world-class vocalists. Mark describes his compositions as “postmodern art songs.” I have heard nothing quite like them.

Mark spent a large chunk of his own money on an orchestra instead of just settling for sampled instruments. Still, this labor of love doesn’t cost a lot.

The Dream Gallery: Seven California Portraits — Amazon, iTunes, Delos

Kids’ summer activity: frozen plastic dinosaurs

Jennifer Perkins on Naughty Secretary Club has a great idea for spring/summer fun with your kids: freeze a bag of dinosaur toys in a block of ice and then stage a sunny-day excavation:

The hardest part about this activity was finding the room in my freezer. It works best if you freeze in batches. The plastic dinosaurs will float to the top if you try and freeze the whole tub at once. I added a little blue food coloring to my water for extra excitement… Tallulah soon discovered that water was the best tool of all for freeing her dinosaurs from their icy prison. We had chats about paleontology, melting ice, cold vs. hot – many a good lesson can be learned with this activity.

Naughty Secretary Club: Spring Break Fun with the Kiddlets – Excavating Dinosaurs from Ice

(via Super Punch)

Listen to a sane debate about nuclear energy

What happens when you get the chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, the chief scientist of Greenpeace, an energy and environmental policy expert, and an environmental activist/politician in a room together to talk about nuclear energy?

You can listen to the whole (very, very interesting) conversation—part of the Science Question Time series—which was recorded last Thursday at the Institute of Physics in London.

I recently started describing my position on nuclear energy as “frienemies”—I’m not strictly against it, and think we’re likely to need it, but I also have some serious issues with how safety is regulated and what we will do with the waste. I think this nuanced discussion did a nice job of laying out the benefits and detriments in a reasonable way. The discussion gets heated, but it is pleasantly lacking in the sort of wild-eyed propaganda and not-particularly-comforting-corporate-pronouncements that tend to characterize these sorts of debates. (Or, rather, it would be, were it not for one memorable audience heckler.)

Download the audio file.

Visit the Biochemical Society’s website for updates about future Science Question Time events.

Danny Hellman’s illustrations for a book project killed by the estate of Dr. Seuss


Danny Hellman, who did fantastic illustrations for bOING bOING (the zine) is posting a selection of 80 illustrations he did for a book about the lousy job prospects for college grads, written in the style of Dr. Seuss. The book will never see the light of day, thanks to Seuss’s small-hearted lawyers.

A few months into the project, (after I’d turned in about half of the book’s 80 or so illos) the publisher sent promo materials for the book out to retailers. Apparently, some wicked, Grinch-like person felt compelled to pass these materials along to attorneys who work for the Ted Geisel estate, at which point this flock of legal carrion birds descended on my publisher much as the Onceler clan does on a newly-discovered forest of virgin Truffula trees.

Okay, enough of the Seuss metaphors. Suffice to say that my publisher was hit with a Cease & Desist letter, and the project was killed, in spite of our well-established First Amendment right to commit parody.

Sometimes it’s actually a relief when jobs get killed, but more often it comes as a bit of a heartbreak, (at least in my experience), and this episode definitely falls into the second category. In spite of the generous kill fee I was paid, I was disappointed that these drawings would never be seen. Now that some time has passed, I’ve picked twelve of my favorites, which I’ll post in two batches. I hope you like them!

Oh, The Jobs That Get Killed, Part One

Crowdfunding the hunt for habitable moons

We’ve talked before about scientists using Rockethub to fund basic laboratory research—stuff that’s important, but not likely to lead immediately to new technologies or other marketable products.

It’s often hard to find the funding necessary to support this kind of research, and crowd funding is a great way to leverage public interest in science. Better yet, there’s now a whole crowd-funding website dedicated specifically to the sciences.

The video above explains one of the projects that’s trying to raise money through Petridish right now. David Kipping is a Harvard postdoc and a NASA Carl Sagan fellow. He wants to conduct the first ever survey of exomoons—moons outside our solar system.

Partially, his research is about understanding the universe. Knowing more about exomoons will teach us a lot about how solar systems, in general, work. But it’s also about that tickly, exciting possibility of life on other planets. As we all learned from watching Return of the Jedi, it is possible to have a habitable moon. So far, the search for habitable exoplanets hasn’t taken moons into consideration. Kipping’s study would change that. But to make it work, he needs to buy a supercomputer. And for that, he needs your help. Kipping is within $3500 of his goal and has 14 days left to go.

Read more about Kipping’s project at Petridish

Find lots more scientific research that needs your support.

Video Link

Hitler toilet-paper wants you to add the mustache

DrawTheShitler sells rolls of toilet roll printed with a caricature of a mustache-less Hitler. You supply the mustache when you wipe.


We need to talk about red meat …

Last week, you probably heard about a study purporting to show that consuming any amount of red meat significantly upped your risk of premature death. If that news has you freaked out, I highly recommend reading Deborah Blum’s roundup of high-quality news coverage of this study. Her piece explains what the study does say, what it doesn’t say, and why some evidence is better than other evidence. The takeaway: You should probably be reducing the amount of processed meat that you eat (but we already knew that).

Return of Mat Ricardo’s London Varieties

Juggler/impresario Mat Ricardo sez, “Just wanted to say a big thanks to all the BoingBoingers who came to Mat Ricardo’s London Varieties last month – it was a sell-out, and a hell of a show, partly because of our smart, savvy and fun audience. All the performers are telling me how much they’re loving working to such great people, so I couldn’t be happier.
Next month’s show is April 12th, with another killer line-up – a street performer who made it to the Royal Variety show, and beyond – The Boy With Tape On His Face, Time-travelling magicians Morgan & West, Shadowgrapher Paul Dabek, and in performance and in conversation, the legendary Lenny Beige. The podcast of last months show is available here, and you can buy tickets for the April 12th show here.”

The battery beneath your feet

How many batteries have you used today?

Energy storage devices have become an integral part of our lives, but they still aren’t really a part of our electric grid. There are some good reasons for that—at that scale of storage, batteries become gigantic and extremely expensive. But the lack of storage on the grid has some distinct drawbacks, putting the stability of our electric system at risk and making it harder to add in lots of renewable energy generation.

Because of that, researchers are looking for ways to get the benefits of batteries without some of the detriments. There are lots of different ways to do this, but one solution is particularly awesome to describe. Hint: It involves caves.

Last Friday, I had a guest post on i09 explaining Compressed Air Energy Storage, an old technology that could be one of the most cost-effective ways to store energy at a grid scale.

At any given moment, there must be almost exactly the same amount of electricity being produced as there is being consumed. If the balance tilts either way-even by a fraction of a percent-it could lead to a blackout. To simply keep the lights on, the grid has to be constantly monitored, with controllers predicting demand and making small adjustments, minute-by-minute, to supply. This happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

… That’s where CAES comes in. CAES systems store energy underground in the form of compressed air, but to make it work you have to start with the right kind of geology. In particular, you need a space that’s airtight. This means that you can’t just pump air into the sort of cave you’ve toured while on vacation. Instead, you have to find a hollowed-out space underground that used to hold something naturally-such as a natural gas reservoir that’s had all of the gas pumped out of it.

Read the rest at i09

Learn more about how the grid works and why storage is so important by reading my book, Before the Lights Go Out.

Image: Holes in porous rock, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from blmurch’s photostream

The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist: 2 week countdown and exclusive daily book giveaway

[Video Link] If you’ve been reading Boing Boing for any length of time, you probably know by now Daniel Clowes is at the top of my list of greatest living cartoonists. (See our many posts about Dan’s work, interviews, profiles, etc.).

So you will understand why I’m so excited about the forthcoming monograph, The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, edited by Alvin Buenaventura (the great comic book publisher and historian), and published by Abrams ComicArts. On April 5, Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles is holding an event to celebrate the release of the book. Part of the festivities will include a live interview with Dan, conducted by yours truly. If you buy a copy of The Art of Daniel Clowes through Meltdown, you’ll get 2 tickets to the event (and Dan will sign it for you that evening). Additional tickets can be purchased for $10.

Also, enter our contest for a chance to win a copy of the book autographed by Daniel Clowes. Throughout our countdown, one winner will be picked at random every day, so check Boing Boing for the daily code. To enter, send an email to with your mailing address (no PO boxes please) and put today’s contest code: [enidcoleslaw] in the subject line.

For the next two weeks, I’ll post a daily countdown entry about Clowes and his book, written by Dan or Alvin. The official release date is April, 1, but you can get it today on Amazon.

Here’s today’s countdown post: ¡Ay Dan Clowes! (Los Simpson en Español) y Correa de la Utilidad del Batman


Daniel Clowes, along with Art Spiegelman and Alan Moore, appeared on The Simpsons episode titled “Husbands and Knives,” first broadcast on November 18, 2007. Clowes was asked to draw a version of Batman’s utility belt, but it was too detailed for the show’s minimal style.

Two-Week Countdown to the Release of “The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist”!