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Archive for June 25th, 2009

Recently on Offworld: is the Xbox 360 the last console you’ll ever buy?

June 25th, 2009 admin No comments

JamesBarnett_Megaton.jpgRagdoll Metaphysics columnist Jim Rossignol wonders if Microsoft has already basically won the battle for our living rooms, with the E3-announced convergence of upcoming Facebook, Twitter, Last.FM, and current Netflix integration in the Xbox 360, and whether, in the future, “rather than having to release a new console, the 360 just gets cheaper, and makes more sense to more people, because it does something that it didn’t do before.”

Elsewhere we released a new hi-res Offworld Gallery featuring the paintings of James Barnett, who’s coined the term ‘fauxvism’ for his Matisse-ian takes on in-game panoramic landscapes from Half Life, Team Fortress and Fallout 3’s Megaton (above), and got even more neo-classical with indie devs Tale of Tales intend to take on Oscar Wilde’s Salome in interactive form.

We also got a double dose of Tetris developments with a wicked video on how Tetris blocks are made, and saw the game get its first pair of designer toys courtesy BE@RBRICK makers Medicom, saw new pets for your custom-printed World of Warcraft figurine, and, finally, were as surprised as anyone to find one indie iPhone developer release a clone of one of the original indie hits: thatgamecompany’s flOw.

Finally, our ‘one shot’s for the day: LittleSoundDJ, the keyboard, and the worst Wario image you’ll never be able to unsee.


Categories: World Tags: , , , , ,

HOWTO disassemble a banana

June 25th, 2009 admin No comments

iFixIt’s awesome teardown site (which contains instructions for skinning and gutting many devices) has this fascinating HOWTO for disassembling a banana:


Step 4

*

Insert your thumbs into the split of the peel and pull the two sides apart.
*

Expose the top of the banana. It may be slightly squished from pulling on the stem, but this will not affect the flavor.

Step 5

*

Pull open the peel, starting from your original split, and opening it along the length of the banana.

Banana Teardown

(via Lessig)


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Illegal e-waste dumped in Ghana includes unencrypted hard drives full of US security secrets

June 25th, 2009 admin No comments

The much-vaunted anti-terror eagles at the TSA have subcontractors whose hard-drives turn up in Ghanain junk-markets in heaps of illegally disposed-of e-waste. The drives are stuffed full of unencrypted, sensitive documents:

A team of journalists investigating the global electronic waste business has unearthed a security problem too. In a Ghana market, they bought a computer hard drive containing sensitive documents belonging to U.S. government contractor Northrop Grumman.

The drive had belonged to a Fairfax, Virginia, employee who still works for the company and contained “hundreds and hundreds of documents about government contracts,” said Peter Klein, an associate professor with the University of British Columbia, who led the investigation for the Public Broadcasting Service show Frontline. He would not disclose details of the documents, but he said that they were marked “competitive sensitive” and covered company contracts with the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Transportation Security Agency.

The data was unencrypted, Klein said in an interview. The cost? US$40…”It was a wonderful, ironic twist,” Klein said. “Here were these contracts being awarded based on their ability to keep the data safe.”

Off-camera, sources in Ghana told the reporters that data thieves routinely scour these hard drives for sensitive information, Klein said.

Reporters find Northrop Grumman data in Ghana market

(via /.)


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True Blood: WSJ publisher calls Google a "digital vampire" with "fangs," "sucking blood" out of publishing biz

June 25th, 2009 admin No comments

In a recent discussion of why his newspaper business is failing, Dow Jones Chief Executive Les Hinton called Google a ‘digital vampire.” Presumably, this makes the Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones publications zombies, because their antiquated business models amount to a dead man walking.

Snip:

Orlock.jpg“[Google] didn’t actually begin life in a cave as a digital vampire per se. The charitable view of Google is that the news business itself fed Google’s taste for this kind of blood.”

By offering its content free on the Web, the newspaper industry “gave Google’s fangs a great place to bite,” he continued. “We will never know what might have happened had newspapers taken a different approach.”

Boy I’m gonna be pissed if this is just another stealth marketing campaign for True Blood.

WSJ publisher calls Google “Digital Vampire” (Crains NY, via Siva V.)


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@BBVBOX: guest-tweeted web video picks on boingboingvideo.com

June 25th, 2009 admin No comments

(Ed. Note: We just gave the Boing Boing Video website a makeover that includes a new, guest-curated microblog: the “BBVBOX.” Here, folks whose taste in web video we admire tweet the latest clips they find. I’ll be posting periodic roundups here on the motherBoing.)

  • Xeni Jardin: (shown above) Hard Times. Ze Frank sez: “I humped your finger and now it’s all pregnant.” Link
  • Richard Metzger: Early Pink Floyd interview 1967 Link
  • Richard Metzger: Kung Fu Hillbilly on Jerry Springer Link
  • Andrea James: My favorite computer-animated-cardboard music video: Point of View by DB Boulevard Link
  • Jesse Thorn: This baseball swing blew my mind, as was promised to me by @yingling: Link
  • Richard Metzger: The Murry Wilson Show by Peter Bagge. The Beach Boys psychotic dad gets his own show Link
  • Xeni Jardin: Great VBS.tv ep w/artist Stelarc, his work involves extending human body through tech Link (via laughingsquid)
  • Susannah Breslin: Take a funky, red-infused trip with Dead Soul Brothers in “Over Time” for seizure-inducing good time: Link
  • Andrea James (shown below): Classic live reference animation from 1981: “Commuter” by Mike Patterson Link

  • More @BBVBOX: boingboingvideo.com


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    Frank Dwyer: Political Haiku: Randy Sanford

    June 25th, 2009 admin No comments

    We don’t need any
    federal stimulus, not
    down Argentine way.


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    David Beckmann: Local Purchase Means Better Foreign Aid

    June 25th, 2009 admin No comments

    Officials from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently confirmed what many development experts already know: local and regional procurement of food aid provides opportunities to enhance U.S. foreign assistance efforts. Testifying before Congress recently, they warned, however, that challenges remain on how to efficiently and reliably distribute food aid to the world’s poor and hungry people.

    The GAO found that local food procurements in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia were 34 percent and 29 percent less expensive than the cost of food aid shipped from the United States. Also, traditional commodities-based aid sourced in the U.S. takes the longest time to arrive where it’s needed, averaging 147 days.

    In contrast, local and regional procurements take on average just over one month. Imagine trying to explain to a mother of hungry children in Mozambique why they must wait for five months before the nutritious food that they so desperately need arrives in their village.

    With the harsh realities of increasing global food insecurity and the number of undernourished people estimated to reach 1.02 billion worldwide by the end of this year, moving away from traditional commodity-based aid and towards a cash-based system is increasingly becoming the method of choice among the world’s major food donors.

    As the world’s biggest food aid donor — supplying more than half the aid — our nation plays a leading role in responding to emergency food assistance. However, our current foreign aid system continues to mandate that the large majority of U.S. food aid be from U.S.-grown commodities that are sourced and shipped from the U.S. to recipient nations on U.S. flagged vessels.

    This must change. As the GAO report illustrates, we need a more efficient foreign assistance system — one that is better coordinated, more accountable, and ensures that people who need help the most get it faster and more effectively. Also, it will mean less waste and more impact for our hard-earned tax dollars.


    Rev. David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World; and co-chair, Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network

    More on Foreign Policy


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    Baby Opossum Rescued From NY Soda Machine

    June 25th, 2009 admin No comments

    JOHNSON CITY, N.Y. — A baby opossum’s instinct to play dead evidently didn’t help matters after it got wedged inside a soda machine at a Binghamton-area fitness club. The animal ran into the Court Jester Athletic Club in Johnson City and scurried behind a soda machine in the front vestibule Wednesday evening.

    The club’s assistant manager called police after she realized the critter was stuck inside, hanging upside down in a compartment below the soda dispenser.

    A police officer tried to pull it from the bottom of the machine, but it was lodged in place and making no apparent move to escape. About a half hour later, another employee arrived with a key for the machine, the front panel was opened and the animal rescued. The officer released it in a nearby cemetery.

    ___

    Information from: The Press and Sun-Bulletin of Binghamton, http://www.pressconnects.com

    More on Animals


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    Randall Amster: Time to Forgive, Forget, and Find a Little Jubilee

    June 25th, 2009 admin No comments

    If we’re truly looking for paths to economic stimulus — which is about stimulating optimism as much as anything else — then we ought to consider getting closer to the source and stop nibbling around the edges of corporate malfeasance. Instead, let’s directly incentivize and bring relief to actual people, giving them a new start by wiping the ledgers clean and ensuring that their future decisions will never again have to be governed by the demons of debt. For the price of two massive bank bailouts, we could have essentially bailed out every American from under a mounting pile of indebtedness.

    By now, the average American debt is mildly staggering if not outright shocking. Households in the U.S. carry somewhere around $10,000 in credit card debts alone, and in 2008 individual fixed payment debts (e.g., auto loans, lines of credit) totaled almost $17,000 per person. When we add in mortgage obligations and student loans to the calculation, we start to approach numbers akin to the U.S. national debt, which breaks down to about $500,000 per capita. It’s certainly no secret, but it needs to be recalled: We are a debtor nation — and we’ve only begun to feel the effects of this eventuality.

    Some want to assign blame to either wasteful consumers or profligate lenders. But this is a cultural phenomenon, and no one is immune to acculturation. We’ve set up a system where payment plans, no-doc mortgages, and massive loans for education (masking as financial aid) are the norm. Money is the means to everything from food to sex, so it’s no surprise what people are willing to do to obtain it, from criminal activities to simply ignoring the rising tide. A few timely pieces of data from creditcards.com tell the story:

    • The average outstanding credit card debt for households that have a credit card was10,679 at the end of 2008.
    • The average American with a credit file is responsible for16,635 in debt, excluding mortgages.
    • As of March 2009, U.S. revolving consumer debt, made up almost entirely of credit card debt, was about950 billion. In the fourth quarter of 2008, 13.9% of consumer disposable income went to service this debt.
    • Total U.S. consumer debt (which includes credit card debt and noncredit-card debt but not mortgage debt) reached2.56 trillion at the end of 2008.
    • As household wealth has declined in the downturn, more American families are facing financial distress due to high debt burdens. In 2007, before the recession began, 14.7% of U.S. families had debt exceeding 40% of their income.
    • Undergraduates are carrying record-high credit card balances. The average balance grew to3,173, the highest in the years the study has been conducted. Median debt grew from 2004’s946 to1,645. 21% of undergraduates had balances of between3,000 and7,000, also up from the last study.
    • 76% of undergraduates have credit cards, and the average undergrad has2,200 in credit card debt. Additionally, they will amass almost20,000 in student debt.
    • Average credit card debt among indebted young adults increased by 55 percent between 1992 and 2001, to4,088.
    • The average credit card indebted young adult household now spends nearly 24 percent of its income on debt payments.
    • The average college graduate has nearly20,000 in debt; average credit card debt has increased 47% between 1989 and 2004 for 25-to 34-year-olds and 11% for 18-to 24-year-olds. Nearly one in five 18-to 24-year-olds is in “debt hardship.”

    The upshot is that we’re burying ourselves — and in particular our young people — under insurmountable debt burdens. These obligations will stay with us throughout our lives, forcing hard choices in areas such as career options, relationships, health care, education, and child-rearing. While this cycle has spiraled out of control in recent years, contributing to the present “crash” that we’re in the midst of, it’s also an old story as well.

    You can go back 50 years, or even 5000, and find some interesting parallels. Consider:

    The smell of freshly mown grass filled the suburban air across America. At local cinemas, Ben-Hur was playing and people were lined up for blocks to see it. Satellites were being launched into the night even as a plane came crashing down on “the day the music died.” The first Barbie doll premiered and Nepali women got the right to vote, but Swiss women were denied theirs. Fidel Castro arrived in Havana and his government was officially recognized by the U.S. Two monkeys became the first living beings to return safely from a space flight. The Dalai Lama fled Tibet, and the first picture of Earth from space was transmitted.

    The year was 1959, and the modern world was stirring in a manner that we might recognize as similar to our own. While the decade ahead will become better known for launching the era that still lingers today, the doorstep year of ‘59 was perhaps the first to encapsulate the feel of a globally-connected, technologically-driven, consumer-oriented world. Half a century ago, the world stood poised to blossom into what it is today.

    It’s also the case that the crises we now face were sown then as well. Tibet, Cuba, women’s rights, the space race — all are still with us today. Economically, we learn that the “debt issued by the World Bank has been AAA-rated since 1959,” and that the “war economy” was flourishing as defense occupied a larger and larger share of the federal budget. Tellingly, certain “radical elements” were already noting the coming trends:

    “The concentration and centralization of economic power extends into the political sphere. There now exists relatively small group of capitalists, financiers, manage politicians, militarists, and labor leaders able to determine social activity by virtue of their overwhelming influence over the economy as a whole, including the defense establishment. [There is a] growing realization that, under conditions as they are now emerging, the traditional capitalist is doomed to extinction…. [T]he mass of the population is quite ready to accept a more radical change from the private enterprise to the state-controlled economy…. In this objective readiness lies the danger for the ruling groups, for in any period of economic stress, it may find expression in political attitudes which would force the free enterprise system into further retreat and give new impetus to those social forces that are steering towards a state capitalist economy.”

    The concentration of wealth and power, a state-controlled economy, a populace primed to accept significant changes in the workings of finance — that was 50 years ago but it could just as easily be culled from today’s headlines. Certainly times have changed on many levels, and a person from 1959 might find 2009 baffling if not incomprehensible. Still, the salient notion of ‘debt as commodity’ that has spiraled into today’s financial meltdown could trace at least part of its genesis back to those simpler, halcyon times of a bygone day. Fifty years of debt and a thinly-veiled version of indentured servitude; five decades of the masses essentially living in a de facto work-release program from a massive debtors’ prison; and a half-century of unsustainable and dehumanizing practices that have brought us to the brink of economic ruination. Things are tough all over….

    So, perhaps it’s time for some Jubilee. A few thousand years ago, people faced similar issues:

    “In the Biblical book of Leviticus, a Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fifty years, in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest.”

    “A Jubilee calls for forgiveness and, more accurately, release and cancellation of debt. [D]uring a year of Jubilee, all debts must be forgiven, especially those of the poor. No generation, no family, no nation should be condemned to perpetual debt from one era to the next. Fifty years is long enough.”

    “The Jubilee year was meant to restore equality among all the children of Israel, offering new possibilities to families which had lost their property and even their personal freedom…. The riches of creation were to be considered as a common good of the whole of humanity…. The Jubilee year was meant to restore this social justice.”

    Some folks already have begun advocating for Jubilee legislation, specifically focusing on Third World debt but raising concerns applicable domestically as well:

    “The Jubilee Act would cancel impoverished country debt, prohibit harmful economic and policy conditions, mandate transparency and responsibility in lending, call for a new legal framework to restrict predatory ‘vulture funds,’ and call for a U.S. audit of odious and illegitimate debts.”

    To be sure, there have been Jubilees declared by the Church in recent years, notably 2000 and 2008. But it’s been a long time since the original spirit of forgiveness of debt and parole from incarceration has been observed. The Old Testament origins of the concept included a codification of “clean slate” principles whereby people could start over and in many cases even reacquire property they had previously been forced to sell. With an eye toward reclaiming these old-school radical notions, I offer the following guidelines for a new Jubilee that could be just the stimulus needed to turn things around:

    • Cancellation of individual debts
    • Forgiveness of student loans
    • Restrictions on future lending and usurious interest rates
    • Prohibitions against government deficit spending
    • Elimination of debt-based trade and markets
    • Abrogation of IOUs, liens, and mortgages
    • Parole of nonviolent prisoners and commutation of fines and sentences
    • Abolition of prison labor
    • Decriminalization of “lifestyle offenses” including drugs
    • Living wage paid in all industries and job sectors
    • Ban on products created through sweatshop/slave labor
    • Cancellation of Third World debts
    • Suspension of Structural Adjustment Programs
    • Return of land to displaced and colonized peoples

    Naturally this will entail a substantial remaking of the political and economic map of the world. Yet ancient Jubilee years sometimes did precisely that, and were seen as fair to all because everyone (debtors and creditors alike) knew when they were coming. It seems to me that the present course of action — namely funneling more and more money to corrupt lenders and wasteful industries, and exacting punitive sanctions on individuals and families who have been working and struggling to make do — is really the one that represents a radical departure from the concept of fairness (and even celebration) that history counsels.

    In the end, it’s well past time to retire all debts, and furthermore to abandon the entire notion of debt itself. We need forgiveness now, not recrimination. We need to unlearn and forget the practices that got us into this mess in the first place. Simply put, we need a little Jubilee to break with the recent past and connect with a much older, time-tested set of practices. For many, the new millennium feels as if it’s just now beginning, so let’s kick it off with a clean slate for all and wipe away the taint of immiseration and despair.

    More on The Bailouts


    Jodi Lipper and Cerina Vincent: Forget Your Sign, Discover Your Design!

    June 25th, 2009 admin No comments

    Who out there doesn’t find astrology fun, interesting and at times eerily accurate? The idea of simultaneously learning something about your personality and your fate is just too attractive to resist, and we know that many of you (like us) start your day, week or month by reading your horoscope and wondering how much of it is true. But the practical side of us thinks that it’s just too supernatural and unproven to possibly be correct, and that’s why we were so excited to learn about a revolutionary new system called Human Design that combines science, spirituality and mysticism to help you discover the person you were born to be.

    Many of us spend our entire lives searching for our life’s purpose, constantly wondering what we were put on this planet to accomplish and who we are really supposed to be. Human Design is a “self awareness tool” that not only tells you about your superficial personality traits, but opens your eyes to the deeper parts of yourself by explaining how your personal blueprint informs the way you react to different people, places and things. Perhaps the most innovative element of this system is that it teaches you not to fight your makeup in order to fit more comfortably into this world. Instead, you are meant to live and act as your true self and Human Design can help you determine precisely who that is.

    We were fortunate enough to get a personal Human Design reading from Chetan Parkyn, the master himself, and not only did he tell us things about ourselves that we never thought someone could tell from the time and place of our birth, but his reading made us feel validated, accepted and completely understood. We are thrilled to introduce this enlightening system to you, but we couldn’t possibly explain it as well as Chetan himself. Below is our interview with Chetan so that you can learn a bit more about this system and discover the blueprint of your true self.

    1 – First of all, tell us how you discovered Human Design.

    I’d been a mechanical engineer, traveling the world on diverse projects. Then my father died and grief sent me into a period of solitude. I started asking questions about what I’d done with my life, and who was I? Grief sent me inward into some serious self-examination. Consequently, I went to India and, to cut a long story short that is detailed in the book, I was told in 1979 I’d be working with a system that would have far-reaching impact into people’s lives. In 1993, I was introduced to Human Design when it was brought to America by its founder, a Canadian man called Ra Uru Hu I realized that here was a system – a tool, an eye-opener – that answered so many questions about who we are as people, and what our purpose & potentials are. Ever since then, I studied it, mastered it and have seen the huge influence it has had on people’s lives.

    2 – You believe that having a strong sense of self can help people find happiness and fulfillment in life. Please explain how Human Design informs people about who they are and how this can help them change their lives for the better.

    Knowing who you are deep down, and honoring that true nature, is a fundamental aspect to finding fulfillment. As I say in the book, it’s about the four A’s: Accepting your true nature leads to an Allowing which catalyzes an Awakening that brings a personal Authenticity. Human Design reminds you of the person you were born to be and asks whether you’re currently living true to that design? Who wouldn’t want to know the blueprint of their personality? The actual structure of their inner-being? We have been given all sorts of rule systems and identities to follow blindly whether they have any bearing on our reality at all. This state of disassociation from our true Self is what is actually responsible for all the pain and misery in this world

    We are moving into the age of the individual where everyone lives their life according to their own nature; a period that challenges us to be more accountable to ourselves. Human Design not only attunes someone to their own unique nature but also clarifies and demonstrates how each individual can make better decisions that are in accord with their own nature. This is enormously empowering and freeing! If we recognize within ourselves what suits us best we find a life that is constantly fulfilling.

    3 – Human Design obviously has many similarities to astrology, but it is far more grounded in science and technical astronomy. Can you explain how “science meets spirituality” in Human Design?

    It might appear that Human Design and astrology have common ground but, in actual fact, they’re very different. This system divides the sky into 64 compartments, not 12 (signs of the zodiac) and its insights focus on the person within, not the journey ahead.

    It can provide a much more detailed snapshot evaluation of an individual than astrology can which is why the book suggests that a better social question would be ‘Forget your sign, what’s your design?’

    Human Design uses an astronomical calculation to determine the placement of the planets at an exact time of birth but that’s where the comparisons with astrology end. Because it also fuses with the I-Ching, the Chakra system & the Kaballah to become a system in its own right. Its science is contained within the relevance of neutrinos and quantum physics, as well as the scientific finding that suggest a strong link between the 64 codons of the DNA and the 64 gates within the Human Design system. So there is a real symbiosis with our spiritual journey and science. There’s nothing like Human Design in terms of self-discovery, our soulful purpose and the scientific evidence.

    4 – In Human Design, we are each born with both conscious and unconscious personality traits. Can you explain the difference between the two and what role free will plays in all of this?

    Our unconscious qualities & influences are vaster than our conscious side, and yet many people walk through life without ever examining such inherent parts of themselves. The conscious side of humans is the tip of the iceberg – hiding the much deeper unconscious elements beneath the surface. Ultimately, a personal awakening and an increased awareness of the true self all hinges on getting to know these unconscious characteristics. We say and act out so many things that we do not understand and this is the unconscious at work.

    Human Design is the first system of its kind where, at the stroke of a key, both your conscious and unconscious personality traits are laid out on the page before you – and that’s when the true self discovery can begin! Human Design doesn’t affect our free will – it better informs it. When you know your design for life, and know what suits you, then you’re better armed to make wiser choices within that free will. When we live our life more consciously and in accord with our design, we have the closest proximity to what we describe as ‘free will’, the state in which we can watch our choices as they become implemented in our lives.

    5 – By downloading your software, people can map their own life chart, or “personality blueprint.” Everyone’s chart is different, so can you tell us if there is such a thing as a good chart or a bad chart? Are there certain personality types in Human Design that are better than others?

    You can walk along any beach in the world and not find two grains of sand the same. So it is with people. We are all unique – and Human Design sets out to remind you of that very uniqueness; what sets you apart from others; what are your strengths & potentials.

    The whole concept of something being either good or bad comes from the formulation of comparisons. If you accept yourself as unique then you will come to see that comparing your life with the life of someone else, or that you have a “good” or “bad” chart in comparison, is meaningless.

    The Human Design book takes you on a step by step guide to show you the inner-map within yourself. In many respects, it pulls back the curtain on the personas we carry through life. Imagine how empowering this is in both relationships and the workplace?

    What CEO wouldn’t want to know the blueprint, potentials, weak spots and proclivities of the entire work force? There is no good and bad when one accepts that authenticity is the only way to approach life – to live a life true to the nature that Human Design reveals.

    6 – Finally, tell us how we can learn more about Human Design! Where can our readers go to get a copy of your book and/or schedule their own reading with you?

    Everyone asks that, because Human Design is a treasure-trove of personal discoveries. You find out about yourself, then your partner, then your siblings, then your children….

    The discoveries are endless. This book will lead you through the maze. Currently, it’s on sale in the UK & Canada via www.amazon.co.uk or you can visit our website at www.humandesignforusall.com and click on the book page. Via this website, personal readings can be booked so that people can have a more complete, in-depth experience.

    But, first things first – the book is that first step towards an understanding of who you are as a person. It comes with free downloadable software which helps you create the life charts of friends, lovers, children, family members, etc.

    We’re currently talking with US publishers to bring this book to America either later this year, or early next. The main thing is that I’m excited to be getting this out there, so that people in the UK, the US and throughout the world can ultimately discover who they were truly born to be. There’s so much to learn about Human Design, and I’m excited to put this book out there for the enjoyment of a wider audience.

    Learn more about our books at www.heydayproductions.com or become our fan of the Hot Chick Book Series on Facebook!


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