Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It is a communist chocolate hellhole and I'm here to stop it ever happening.

A time traveler from the future has been arrested at the Large Hadron Collider.  He was arrested after security guard caught him going through the trash looking for fuel for his 'time machine power unit', a device, CNET reports, "that resembled a kitchen blender."  Tell that to Mr. Fusion.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


A little Wednesday afternoon statistics, to cheer us up.

What are the odds that you, as an individual, exist? Pretty good, you'd guess, since you're sitting right here reading this. But, in an abstract sense, the chances that you exist are really rather slim.
Click here to see the whole thing--and read all the way until the end. Via BoingBoing.

Now go be a statistical miracle.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The long life of the Vortex

Though a footnote in the wider project of England's only avant-garde, the vortograph was intended to be the photographic equivalent of Vorticism's flat canvasses and literary bombs.  So it was something of a surprise--a welcome surprise--to see Gizmodo hosting a competition to get folks to make contemporary vortographs.  The results are actually pretty great.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Salt Water Taffy

The NYT has a nice slideshow up detailing the variety of cover art for one of the best and most-often illustrated novels of all, Moby Dick.  Below is the strangest cover of them all.

The Atlantic also has a review up a really cool art book called Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page.  Below, a page by artist Matt Kish:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Self-parody alert

Eric Cantor to give speech on "how we make sure the people at the top stay there."  Not from The Onion.

Nothing bitter about it

The arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty in Madison Square Park, New York. These portions of the Statue were exhibited to raise funds for the completion of the statue and its pedestal. The arm and torch remained in the park from 1876 until 1882. Members of the public could pay fifty cents to climb to the balcony of the torch.

From BoingBoing.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Industrial Production of Death

You know there's something wrong here when "the fish" are referred to in the singular, as if the moment they entered the boat the went from being animals to being food.  Surreal.

Via Gizmodo.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Youtube dreams

"We are opening a window into the movies in our minds."
UC Berkley scientists are pioneering a system "to capture visual activity in human brains and reconstruct it as digital video clips," technology that may someday allow us to TiVo our dreams. Yikes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

War Plan Red

Invasion of Canada. Bombing raids on British industrial interests. Naval blockade. Chemical weapons. Six million troops fighting on the Eastern seaboard. This wasn't a crazy Nazi plan. It was the United States' strategy to destroy Britain as a world superpower.
How the US Planned to Destroy Britain Just a Few Years Before World War II.  It actually sounds like this was a lot more than just an elaborate contingency plan, since the US had already built three disguised airfields in Canada for War Plan Red.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nintendo Power

Wired has an amazing piece up about the "holy grail" of Nintendo game collecting, previously discussed on this very blog.  Of course, some trail-blazing video game collector bought 7 of the 26 known copies of the most desired video game on the planet sometime in the mid-90s.  He paid as little as $50 for what now goes for as much as $17,000.

Messing with my head

Wyndham Lewis' brain, preserved in a jar.  Science's revenge on one of its major early 20th century critics, or self-parodic evidence of a scientific ideological vapidness?  Amazing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Overdue explanations.

How Doc Brown and Marty McFly became friends.

What I'm really looking for, though, is an explanation of where Marty #2, from alternate-1985, gets sent at the end of Back to the Future part 1.  My money's on a prehistoric wasteland.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The substance of all my nightmares

Creepy ventriloquist dummies doing what they do best -- looking creepy.

Via BoingBoing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

talking parrots

“One developmental milestone is when infants begin to relate adult sound patterns to specific meanings,” wrote Berg’s team, who described their findings July 13 Proceedings of The Royal Society B. “Among these sounds, an individual’s own name is one of the earliest adult words for which infants show evidence of acoustic pattern recognition. Our study suggests that at least a moderately convergent process may occur in parrots.”
Whales might not be the only wild animals to have individualized names.  Wired reports.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A steal

Via Mitch, a stunning Sotheby's auction for the savvy buyer: James Joyce's war-time passport.  Here are the details:


Granted, the estimated price is 50-70,000 GBP, but it's totally worth it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Return of the Pooping Duck

Radiolab has an interesting story up about the a 16th century Spanish-made automaton in the shape of a monk.  I talked a lot in my spring class, "Mechanical Life and Modernity," about the history of automata and the emergence of the idea of the robot, but I had never heard of this monk.  It doesn't hold a candle to Vaucanson's digesting duck, but this story points out the interesting way in which the automaton functioned in the pre-Enlightenment religious mind. 

The story is worth giving a listen to here.

Also, here's a video of the monk in action:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Beautiful Movie About the End of the World

After reading the reviews, I decided not to see Lars von Trier's 2009 film, Antichrist; even though I admit to loving the darkness of Dogville and Dancer in the Dark, the prospect of watching a horror film that coheres around scenes of genital mutilation struck me as, well, not my cup of tea.

So I'm pleased to read that his new film takes him to a happier place (relatively speaking).  Melancholia will debut at Cannes in May.

Melancholia from Zentropa on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This is America. This is our piggy bank.

Here's a little parable:

We have a family that is spending $38,200 per year. The family’s income is $21,700 per year. The family adds $16,500 in credit card debt every year in order to pay its bills. After a long and difficult debate among family members, keeping in mind that it was not going to be possible to borrow $16,500 every year forever, the parents and children agreed that a $380/year premium cable subscription could be terminated. So now the family will have to borrow only $16,120 per year.
So, what makes more sense: do you attempt to cut back your costs to offset your ever-increasing debts, or do you get a job that pays you better?

Via BB.


Steven Colbert almost makes me want to activate that Twitter account I started so long ago.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Weiner, on a roll

Anthony Weiner nails it at the Congressional Correspondents' Dinner:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Always get the insurance

BoingBoing has a video up from, remixing video from Durham's own truck-eating underpass with Ennio Morricone.

Durham + Morricone = ♥

Monday, January 24, 2011

Compost Partisanship

Maybe if it had been a vermicomposting program, the GOP wouldn't have just axed the House composting program.  Where's the outrage?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rhythm rhythm everywhere

Via BB, this is a totally beautiful video about the African drumming and the diurnal rhythms that make drumming such a natural part of culutre:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The safety is off.

"[T]he use of a term associated with real evils like genocide to defend oneself in the face of catty punditry shows a startling degree of narcissism--even for Palin."
Pro-gun Sarah Palin shoot herself in the foot with her "blood libel" comment.  Jews across the political spectrum are NOT happy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

O Pioneers!

I love this.

Monday, January 10, 2011

There are guns, and then there are guns.

Gail Collins nails it:

Today, the amazing thing about the reaction to the Giffords shooting is that virtually all the discussion about how to prevent a recurrence has been focusing on improving the tone of our political discourse. That would certainly be great. But you do not hear much about the fact that Jared Loughner came to Giffords’s sweet gathering with a semiautomatic weapon that he was able to buy legally because the law restricting their sale expired in 2004 and Congress did not have the guts to face up to the National Rifle Association and extend it.
If Loughner had gone to the Safeway carrying a regular pistol, the kind most Americans think of when they think of the right to bear arms, Giffords would probably still have been shot and we would still be having that conversation about whether it was a sane idea to put her Congressional district in the cross hairs of a rifle on the Internet.
But we might not have lost a federal judge, a 76-year-old church volunteer, two elderly women, Giffords’s 30-year-old constituent services director and a 9-year-old girl who had recently been elected to the student council at her school and went to the event because she wanted to see how democracy worked.