Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Stick it to the man

Pictaps lets you draw a little stick figure guy (I made mine sporting a shirt plugging Info Nation, natch, though it's fairly unreadable when shrunk down this small). Once you finish and turn him loose, he will jump around and dance along with hundreds of little stickman clones. It's really quite something. Check it out! (via Boing Boing)

Seeing that little flat-as-a-pancake stick guy made me think of this quirky video from The Spinto Band from their Nice and Nicely Done release.

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Heave ho

This man can move anything, including huge slabs of stone, some weighing thousands of pounds. He even moved his friend's pole barn 300 feet with his bare hands and a couple of small stones... He thinks he knows how Stonehenge got built using a very small crew and nothing but some basic principles of physics and a few simple tools. He plans to complete his own backyard version soon. (via Silverberry)

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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

It's been pretty cold around here lately, but then again, probably not as cold as it was back in 1911 when Niagara Falls froze. The pic is from a postcard claiming that the Niagara completely froze over. However, it seems there is still some water going through, though at a greatly reduced rate. According to the Snopes article, March of 1848 was much closer to actual complete stoppage of the falls. An interesting read.

Beautiful galleries individual snowflakes at SnowCrystals.com

The story of Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley, who became the first person to photograph a single snow crystal in 1885. His 1931 book "Snow Crystals" contained over 2400 different snow crystal images.

Make your own virtual snowflake. Here's one that I did:

Published nearly a century ago in 1908 but still a gripping read, Jack London packs a lot into twelve pages. Read his short story To Build A Fire.

No matter how cold it gets in your part of the world, it probably can't compete with the coldest place on the planet, Antarctica, where temperatures have dropped down to a record -128.6 °F (-89.2 °C). You may be surprised to learn that Antarctica is also classified as the largest desert on Earth. While most people think of deserts as hot, dry and sandy, the true definition of a desert is a geographic location that receives very, very little rainfall. Although there is a lot of ice on the ground there, that ice has been on the ground for a LONG time. Here's a nice bite-size introduction into the only continent owned by no country.

A couple of related links hijacked from the excellent growabrain:

Breaking the ice (.wmv file)

Some amazing ice and snow sculptures from around the world.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

I'll Moonwalk When I'm Dead...

Not much to say here except to point you to this link-filled post over at Metafilter with numerous videos of different tributes and recreations of Michael Jackson's now-classic "Thriller". I especially dug the Bollywood version (just for the sheer oddness) and the one where the entire wedding party performed it during the reception.

You know, it's been over twenty years and I've seen countless music videos since then, but even now the zombie dance scene, especially the look-over-the-shoulder head twitch, still kills me.

On the subject of twitching and Eighties videos, take three-and-a-half minutes out of your busy day to spazz along to Talking Heads' "Once In A Lifetime" featuring the highly-strung David Byrne.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

No capes!

I am reminded of a great scene from Pixar's The Incredibles, where the former Mr. Incredible meets up with his old superhero costume designer, Edna Mode:
Bob Parr: Something classic - like Dynaguy. Oh, he had a great look - the cape and the boots...
Edna Mode: [throws crumpled piece of paper and hits Bob on the forehead] No capes.
Bob: Isn't that my decision?
Edna: Do you remember Thunderhead? Tall, storm powers? Nice man, good with kids.
Bob: Listen, E —
Edna: NOVEMBER 15th of '58! All was well, another day saved, when... his cape snagged on a missile fin.
Bob: [chuckles] Thunderhead was not the brightest bulb —
Edna: STRATOGALE! April 23rd, '57. Cape caught in a jet turbine!
Bob: E, you can't generalize about these things —

Todd Alcott is posting some really great insights over at his blog about superheroes, the role they play in the lives of kids (and maybe adults, too), and his 5 year-old son's fascination with all things Justice League. Having two sons in the same age neighborhood (4.5 and 6) and observing their own Batman/Superman/Rescue Heroes/Bionicle phases rings pretty familiar with me.

That, plus he named his oldest kid Sam, too.

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The "J" Word

I admit I have posted some juggling videos in the past, which might not be everyone's cup of tea, and here is yet another one. I can't really explain why they intrigue me as much as they do, maybe it's just because it's a skill I don't possess. Sure, I can keep three in the air for a few rounds but I definitely can't make it look as easy and graceful as these folks do. And after about ten seconds, things kind of deteriorate for me and I always end up having to chase my juggled items as they bounce merrily away down the sidewalk.

The person who uploaded this video titled it "juggling with big blue balls", even though the balls are obviously red in color. The only conclusion I can draw from this mysterious misnomer is that the person is either:

A) colorblind


B) this man

Not really juggling per se, but I am pointing it out because it still looks kinda cool, and because it features a John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band song I had completely forgotten about but used to really love, "Isolation". Also because it is featured at the bet-you-didn't-know-existed hooping.org, which is
an international hub for the worldwide hooping community and the one-stop online source for all things hooping. Its mission is to provide advice, instructions, videos, photos, and other helpful information for hoopers all over the world.

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"But I was going into Tashii Station to pick up some power converters!"

Oh, YouTube! You bring forth such wondrous bounty from your cornucopia series of tubes! Whatever did we bloggers do before you came on the scene? I think we used to write. With words or something, I think.

Anyway, let's look at the pretty pictures...

The most recent gem is this re-enactment of the final space battle from the original Star Wars using only bare hands; the actors are wearing all black and are nearly invisible. You need to be a little familiar with the original scene to fully appreciate this, but those of us who have been around the Star Wars block a time or two will find this amusing and pretty darn creative. (via Boing Boing)

I guffawed, I chortled, I spelled out the letters with my body... Star-Wars-C-A

The Darth Vader/Emperor Palpatine relationship was always a little complicated... Favorite line: "What the hell is an Aluminum Falcon?!"

What's an evil, depraved Sith Lord to do to fill those long, lonely days in his sunset years? TempCorp has the solution!

More StarTube goodness in the form of the various episodes of Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager. The Force is strong with this one. The above is the link for the first episode, though starting at Episodes IV, V and VI and then finishing off with Eps I, II and III is always an option for the truly harcore.

"These aren't the Fords you're looking for". I wonder whether Obi-Wan used The Force to swing better financing at the dealership?

Seems like Star Wars has always been around... In fact, it seems to have been around even longer than we thought. What if Star Wars actually came out in the Forties? Another in the continuing series... Benjamin Kenobi: Space Knight of the Future!

And as if the previous wasn't retro enough, how do you feel about Silent Star Wars?

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Thursday, January 18, 2007


Jeep Fountain (via J-Walk)

The Time Fountain is a fascinating experiment. Dripping water + strobe light + camera = freaky-cool fountain that allows you to play with water drops "frozen" in midair or even drops that appear to be "falling up".

Photoshop Tutorial: Fountain of Youth

Fountains of Wayne - Red Dragon Tattoo

Smiths - Reel Around the Fountain

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Come for the ear-punishing music, stay for the eye-destroying artwork!

A Worth1000 Photoshop contest on... Worst. Albums. Ever.

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Slippery When Wet/Stuck On You

scha·den·freu·de (shäd'n-froi'də)
n. Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

Home video of an extremely icy intersection in Portland, Oregon. Their insurance nightmare is our hilarity. Enjoy. (via Boing Boing)

Although Portland's ice might run a close second, the title of World's Slipperiest Substance actually belongs to Teflon. But, if Teflon is so slippery, how do they make it stick to the pan?

Serving as yang to our slippery yin, the stickiest substance in nature turns out to be found in the ocean. The glue secreted by organisms like mussels and barnacles can harden in a few minutes and yet withstand years of pounding surf, as this Discover.com article titled The Chemistry of Glue explains.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

And everyone used to mock my plastic Swatch. Who's laughing now?

Simply Physics has a great page of photos of objects (chairs, oxygen tanks, floor buffers, etc.) that have accidentally become stuck in MRI scanners. Since these machines have huge, extremely powerful magnets at their core, there are very strict protocols for keeping metal objects from getting near the scanner. Not that those protocols always get enforced, mind you...
(via Mind Hacks)

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I can (still) see your house from here

This is cool. Huge zoomable gigapixel hi-res photo of Boston. (via J-Walk)

Start with this:

And end up with something like this:

The site, xRez, hosts many other gorgeous images in their Gallery. The two below are of the ruins of the Anazai's Pueblo Bonito, located in Chaco Canyon in a remote region of New Mexico.

Here's the entire shot:

And here's a tiny little sign in the top area of the pueblo that asks visitors to "Stay On Trails/Keep Off Walls":

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Suddenly it feels so roomy in here

Michael Wolf's 100x100, 100 photos of Hong Kong apartments each 100 square feet in size. (via Kottke)

Tips on how to make a small apartment seem larger.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

I can see your house from here

Young Ellie: Dad, do you think there's people on other planets?
Ted Arroway: I don't know, Sparks. But I guess I'd say if it is just us... seems like an awful waste of space.
"Contact" (1997)

The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times over many years and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers.

The introduction begins like this:

"Space," it says, "is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindboggingly big it is. I mean you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space. Listen ..." and so on.
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Get some perspective... take a look at this map of the universe within one billion light years of our location.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Say what?

Long, long ago I put up a post titled The Most Mysterious Manuscript in the World [5/14/2003] about a mysterious text that has defied the translational efforts of linguists the world over for nearly a century now. The document, nearly 240 pages long, is known as the Voynich Manuscript. And while it is a fascinating study in mysterious writings and lost languages, it is far from the only example. There are numerous other undeciphered texts out there, waiting for the right mind to unlock them.

Damn Interesting recently explored the lost language of Rongorongo (or Rongo Rongo), the written script of those ever-mysterious Easter Islanders of the South Pacific. Their culture was nearly extinct when the Europeans discovered the island in the 18th century. Missionaries decided the strange language was too closely tied to the islanders' pagan roots and forced the inhabitants to destroy virtually all of the tablets. When an interest in the language finally did arise, there was little left to study and even fewer left who were able to decipher the marks.

Omniglot is a site devoted to studying and archiving writing systems and languages from around the world. They have a list of nine still undeciphered scripts. Voynich is in there, as is Rongo Rongo. Read the rest of the list here.

Puzzles is another section at the site, with readers submitting samples of mysterious scripts they've come across, hoping to locate someone who can help translate. Neat.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Oh crap

The amazing story of how an entire Louisiana lake disappeared in two days. (via kottke)

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Is it too soon?

They say that Tragedy + Time = Comedy. President Gerald Ford will be buried in his former (and my current) hometown of Grand Rapids this week. Is it okay that I found this funny? Er, no. Probably not.

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They'll give anyone a cape these days

The Top Ten Lamest Superheroes of All Time

He may not be so much a superhero as a shill for the Tootsie Roll marketing department, but Captain Tootsie is certainly lame in his own right.

When he is not rocking your face, he creates a pretty hilarious site, so do yourself a favor and check out the rest of Seanbaby.com once you finish reading those adventures of Capt. Toots.

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