Saturday, September 24, 2011

Morning Jukebox

Genki Sudo - Machine Civilization

Genki Sudo is a retired MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter and kickboxer who was best known for his flashy, elaborate ring entrances. He now writes music for and fronts the robo-dance outfit World Order. The ever-increasingly complex hand movements start around 3:16 and just get better and better (hey, is that guy at 5:01 floating??)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reality Hits You Hard, Bro

A somewhat exuberant eyewitness to an auto accident in Phoenix. (via Bits and Pieces)

Growing up in the 70s as I did, Harry Chapin was not only a staple on the radio ("Cat's In The Cradle" was on constantly), but we had several of his albums at home as well that got frequent play. This song, "30,000 Pounds of Bananas", is from his 1974 Verities & Balderdash and was a perennial crowd favorite at his live shows, though the band apparently didn't care for the song all that much. It's a macabre story-song about a young truck driver "just out on his second job", bringing a load of just about 30,000 pounds of you-know-whats to you-know-where. Unfortunately, as he begins his descent down the steep grade going into the city, he's thinking about his girl and misses the sign warning him to shift to low gear. Once the brakes go out, the perfect storm is in place.

What I didn't know was that this was based on an actual event that took place on March 18,1965. The lyrics of the song are not too far from what actually transpired.

Harry Chapin - 30,000 Pounds of Bananas

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Like Big Buddhas And I Cannot Lie

The largest Buddha in Thailand is the Wat Muang in Ang Thong, a couple hours drive north of Bangkok. It measures 95 meters (312 feet) high, or approximately 2 meters taller than the Statue of Liberty. Some other great pics of this immense statue.

However, it isn't the largest statue in the world (here's a list), or even the largest Buddha statue in the world. Both of those claims currently rest with the Spring Temple Buddha in Henan, China, which tops out at 153 m (502 ft), including the 25 m (82 ft) pedestal/building.

I looked at a number of pictures of Spring Temple Buddha, but none seemed to really drive home the immense size as dramatically as the Wat Muang, if you ask me. Below is one taken from a distance so that it is framed by some of the surrounding city, and here are some other shots as well.

Chart comparing sizes of Spring Temple Buddha (153 m), Statue of Liberty (93 m), The Motherland Calls (91 m), Christ the Redeemer (39.6 m), and Statue of David (5.17 m).

And no one knows what goes on

...behind beard doors. With apologies to Charlie Rich.

From the 1991 National Beard & Moustache Competition, Tacoma, WA

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Don't Shoot Until You See The Green in Their Nose

*Snort*, by "Roland Flicket", eh?

From the pilot episode of WKRP In Cincinnati, where Dr. Johnny Fever winds up after getting fired for saying "booger" on the air. I don't often link to Hulu, hopefully it'll work for you. I had to turn off adblocking to make it play for me... Let me know.

Ewwwww... Booger Sniper tasks you with flinging your mucus at someone else, who catches it. In their mouth. Who's hungry?

Friday, September 09, 2011

Oh, Yoshimi, they don't believe me, but you won't let those robots eat me

(click to activate The Embiggenator Bot)

From the creepiness of The Golem of Prague to the goofiness of Vaucanson's Digesting Duck, which ate kernels of corn and "digested" it, dispensing pre-loaded feces (now there's a phrase I never thought I'd be using) to the uncannily almost-human intelligence of The Turk, a chess-playing automaton, here's A Brief Visual History of Robots in a Matrix of Creepiness & Intelligence (hat tip to Janet Z. for the link!)

I took the Information Nation staff, aka Mrs. Captnkurt and Junior Staff Editors Sam (10) and Ben (8), to the Franklin Institute on a recent trip to Philadelphia. The Franklin Institute is a science and technology museum, and one of the coolest exhibits was their incredible Maillardet's Automaton.

Built around 1800 and donated to the museum in 1928, when the machine arrived it was not in working order and badly damaged from a fire. It was extensively repaired, with new legs and clothes built for it, though nowadays it is displayed partially disassembled so as to show off its inner mechanisms. However, it is still operational and is capable of producing four drawings and three poems. The secret lies in its mind-bogglingly intricate brass gears and cams, all handmade, which guide the movements of the head, eyes, arms and hands.

Click the pic above or here for more info and a couple of way cool videos of Maillardet's Automaton in action.

If you are a fan of shows such as This American Life, I think you would also dig the fantastic Radiolab, which explores big questions in science and philosophy in an engaging storytelling format.

A recent episode was on Talking To Machines, which explored, among other things, the unnerving ability of Furby, that plush robotic toy from the late 90s, to act almost like a living thing.

Hugo, a new Martin Scorsese film is coming out this year based upon the wonderful Young Adult graphic novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The story takes place in Paris during the early part of the 20th century, where orphan Hugo Cabret secretly lives amongst the clockworks of a busy Paris train station. Before he died, his father gave him a mysterious broken automaton with a few secrets of its own.

The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink... by Warner-Music
What fighting evil robots has to do with some sort of Japanese eating contest(?) is beyond me, but I've always been partial to this song.

Monday, September 05, 2011

In your face!

Ulric Collette's Portraits Génétiques (Genetic Portraits) blends photos of family members (father/daughter, brother/sister, etc) into one composite image. (via Kottke)

English pop due Kevin Godley and Lol Creme split from the band 10cc to form their own group, Godley & Creme. The pair had several hits in the UK, but their only hit on this side of the pond was in 1985 with the groundbreaking video for "Cry".

Arthur, the less-than-heroic sidekick of The Tick, comes up with his battlecry.