360º Views from the Surface of Mars(!!!)

These are fun on your computer, and absolutely immersively astounding on your phone/tablet. The future is here, but unevenly distributed—with some portions dune-buggying around Mars, picking at rocks and wrecking up the joint.

Consider this your daily reminder that, in contrast to how things were when I was a kid, Mars is now populated—and it’s ruled by robots!

NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover at Namib Dune (360 view) – YouTube

(props to Terence Hawkins for just messaging me about a typo; that cat writes good books)

Showed my 9yo the ROGUE ONE trailer….

… He asked, “Why are all the new Star Wars about girls?” I pointed out that the first six weren’t. It was immediately clear to him that it made little sense for 3/4 of the stories to almost exclusively focus on 1/2 the population. This caused him 0 misery or cognitive dissonance. He said, “Oh, yeah,” and moved on with his life.

DEAR MEN OLD ENOUGH TO VOTE, DRINK, AND OWN GUNS: Please take a cue from your young sons—or brush up on your math—and chill the fuck out.

Thank you; that is all.

Meet the New Site! (Same as the Old Site)

I’ve finally finished migrating my site from my old (and somewhat outdated) host to NearlyFreeSpeech.net!  Callooh! Callay!

Not much to shout about over at my homepage (although a lot of work went into keeping things basically exactly the same #sighs), but the blog (as you can see) has gotten a major facelift, including “responsive design,” so that it’s thoroughly readable on mobile devices.

I’ve spent a lot of time patching and mending over the last couple weeks, but there are bound to be links, widgets, and images that I missed, or which were hopelessly bunged up by the migration assistant (shifting hosts also necessitated switching to actual modern blogging software; many benefits, but damn has it been a pain in the ass).  Find something broken? Gimme a heads-up. Thanks!

HO-LY *SHIIIIIIIIIIIIT!* New Mammoth Found in Chelsea, MI!!!

Unearthing of a mammoth today in Chelsea Michigan.

Posted by Sheryl Myers on Thursday, October 1, 2015

UPDATE: Farmer uncovers woolly mammoth bones near Chelsea, Michigan | MLive.com

HELLA-RAD DEAL ALERT from @nostarch: Save 40% on maker books—#DIY toys, music, & electronics—until SUNDAY MAY 17

To celebrate the big Bay Area Maker Faire this weekend my publisher—No Starch Press—is offering a 40% discount on a fistful of their premier maker/DIY titles, including Arduino Workshop (which I’ve found *really* handy as I’ve been monkeying around with Arduino), The Maker’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (!!!), The Manga Guide to Electricity (one of my son’s faves), and my books Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred: Seriously Geeky Stuff to Make with Your Kids and Junkyard Jam Band. As ever, any print purchase automatically includes DRM-free ebooks in ePub, .mobi/Kindle, and stunningly rad PDF formats. (FYI: If you buy Junkyard Jam Band—which goes to print this July—you’ll be signed up for the Early Access Program: Advance-reader copies of the projects will drop into your inbox as I complete layout review. It’s like an all-access pass to my bizarre, junkband fever dreams; video examples of prototypes after the jump.)
Wanna get in on the deal? Just toss the book (or books) in your cart and use the coupon code ELECTRICUKE at checkout—but strike while the iron is hot; this deal ends on SUNDAY MAY 17!

Continue reading “HELLA-RAD DEAL ALERT from @nostarch: Save 40% on maker books—#DIY toys, music, & electronics—until SUNDAY MAY 17”

MICHIGAN VOTERS: Our Roads Suck! Plz Vote YES on Prop 1!!!

Our roads are in crap condition and our legislators have basically been refusing to act like grown-ups and raise taxes to pay to fix them. So, they punted the decision to us with a moderately confusing ballot proposal–Proposal 1–to fund this. Here’s the bit: There’s now this growing grumble that we should torpedo the prop just to be dicks to the governor (who favors Prop 1).
This is a not-good plan. Our feelings about the governor are our feelings about the governor; failing to pass Prop 1 will not punish him. It will punish children, the elderly, and the poor. If you are pissed at *those* groups, then yeah, I guess you should kill Prop 1. Otherwise, vote YES on Prop 1, write an angry letter to the governor, and get on with your day.
Again, our legislators failed to act like grown ups and just fix the damn thing; the proper response is for us to act like responsible grown-ups, not to pitch a ballot-box tantrum.

  1. Our roads will get fixed, making them safer and saving *everyone* money on auto repairs, travel times, fuel consumption, etc.
  2. School funding will be protected.
  3. Taxes taxes will get somewhat more rational (gas taxes will go to fix roads, and several gas taxes will be repealed in order to replace them with a slightly higher single tax; sales tax will get bumped one point to 7%, in order to pay for public schools)
  4. The Earned-Income Tax credit will be restored (this helps low- to middle-income families)


  1. A governor who you maybe personally dislike is happy about something
  2. This is a net tax increase which disproportionately falls on the low- and middle-earners (which is just the reality of sales and fuel taxes)

Yeah, this is a crappy situation–even if you think the governor is dandy, it’s still an imperfect fix and and overall crappy situation, because it shows such weak, childish governing on the part of our elected officials–but it’s better than the alternative (as per Proposal 1: The issue that has turned too many Michigan progressives into tea partiers | Eclectablog):

Here’s the reality: the Republicans, a full 70% of whom voted FOR putting Prop 1 on the ballot, would like nothing more than for voters to kill it. Then, the “lesson” they will have learned, one they are counting on, is that Michigan voters don’t want their taxes raised. Once that has been established, they will feel free to start cutting our state budget. If you think that means rolling back the corporate tax cuts that we all fought so hard against, you couldn’t possibly be more wrong.
We already know where they will find the money to put into the roads because they have been showing us for the past four years. They will cut programs that impact those in the most need – the elderly, the young, and the poor – and they will continue to cut education. In fact, conservative Senator Patrick Colbeck has an 83-bill package of legislation waiting in the wings in the event Prop 1 goes down in flames to begin these cuts.

So, on May 5, please VOTE YES ON PROP 1.

Continue reading “MICHIGAN VOTERS: Our Roads Suck! Plz Vote YES on Prop 1!!!”

Early Access to More Projects from JUNKYARD JAM BAND!!!

Just a quick heads-up that we’ve added four new projects to the Junkyard Jam Band Early Access, for a total of *seven* fully-functional musical instrument projects you can download and build *now*–including the Droid Voicebox (learn to solder and then talk like a funky robot today), my new Playing-Card Pickup design (perfect for cigar-box guitars, diddley bows, steel-string ukes, mandolins, etc.), and the Elephant Trumpet (a couple bucks in parts, five minutes to build, hours of laughing yourself silly).

Q: What’s “Early Access“?
A: My new book, Junkyard Jam Band: DIY Musical Instruments and Noisemakers, won’t hit store shelves until this July. You can buy it at a discount *today* and get immediate access to PDFs of the projects. You’ll be updated as new projects become available, and ultimately receive your copy of the finished book before anyone else. ADDED BONUS (for both you and us): You have a chance to hit us with feedback about how we can make these projects *even more rad!*

Wanna jump aboard? Just add Junkyard Jam Band to your cart and checkout using the coupon code EARLYBIRD. You’ll save 30% and can start making a jazz noise ASAP.

Give the Gift of Bawdy SF! #scifi

Looking for a little something extra-special for the the literate pervert in your life? May I suggest a copy of my celebrated novella Tucker Teaches the Clockies to Copulate? Thumbnail blurb: “A lonely veterinarian recounts a crippled, alcoholic, Confederate infantryman’s attempts to teach decommissioned clockwork soldiers to make nice (*wink, wink*) with their Mormon neighbors.”

  • Reviewers have lauded it as: “dark comedy, wonderfully absurd, riotously bawdy, populated by a full set of fantastically flawed characters . . . . Yet also a poignant tale of wanting to belong, wanting to be counted as a human among humans.”
  • While readers say stuff like: “reading this was like reading sci-fi from the Golden Age, the mind stretching shit that challenged your idea of the world, and what it means to be human” and “Highly recommended for people who like intelligent fiction that isn’t afraid to get dirty and weird.”
    Big spenders can drop some coin one one of the *two* remaining hand-made, letter-pressed chapbooks (the so-called “Patron edition,” shown above). Folks looking for a virtual stocking stuffer can pick-what-they-pay for DRM-Free digital editions. (Or, as always, you can buy it on Amazon.)
    P.S.: Need something for your nearest-dearest crafty DIY makers? Consider a copy of my first DIY book, Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred.

  • Give the Gift of Getting Crafty! #DIY

    The Holiday of Your Choosing is fast approaching! My first DIY book, Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred: Seriously Geeky Stuff to Make with Your Kids, is a popular gift for inquisitive kids and their hands-on family and friends–but it’s not generally super-well stocked in stores (i.e., after Cyber Monday [*shudders*], Amazon was down to just three copies). Amazon *has* been restocked, and *can* have it for you by Xmas or Xanukah. Act fast!

    If you’d prefer an autographed and personalized copy, I again have a few left over from my summer events, and will gladly oblige: Click for details!
    What do you build in this book? Stuff like this $10 guitar:

    And these water rockets: