Saturday, June 30, 2012

If thou wilt make a man happy...

Because I don't actually have breasts, it makes sense for me to use Virtual Breast Augmentation, hosted in part by (not virtual) Brooke Burke.

If you think the Swiss are all about banking and hot chocolate you need to read this article about how the entire country is wired for defense from invasion - demolition, bunkers, the whole bit. (I had to look up the definition of "lithic" - "of the nature of or relating to stone."

For truly hard core animation fans only - one man's quest to find the original title sequences from 1930's Disney films.

Clock fetish satisfied - jClockClock
Don't forget - tonight's the night you add a leap second to your clocks.

To give a good presentation, you need to know about people. To be specific, you need to know these five things about people.
  1. People learn best in 20 minute intervals. So if you have a hour's worth of material break it up into 20 minute segments.
  2. Multiple sensory channels compete. More bluntly, if you have a slide with lots of text and numbers and equations and stuff people are going to read it and not hear anything you say (i.e. visual trumps audio).
  3. What you say is only one part of your presentation. Be aware of how you say it. (I had to look up the definition of "paralinguistics" - "the study of optional vocal effects.")
  4. If your goal is for people to act, give them an explicit call to action. 
  5. People imitate the speaker's emotions and attitudes. Don't hold back. Be contagious.
Ah, yes. The question. What is art? When does art leave craft and decoration and utility behind? I don't know. But artists and thinkers have tried to define it over the years. I like this quote attributed to Nietzsche: "We have our Arts so we won't die of Truth."

Baseball pitchers were allowed to doctor the baseball up until a Cleveland Indians batter was killed after being struck in the head by a submarine pitch which rose up from ground level. What year was that?

Meanwhile in Venezuela mimes are being used for traffic control. (Up next, balloon artists replace firemen.)
Stupid computer science tricks: edit files using vi in your browser.

The average weight of an adult human is 137 pounds. Enter your weight and see where you fit (or don't fit as the case might be) in this graphic of the world's fattest countries.

You'd think I'd be an expert on over the counter pain meds by now (in fact, I'm trying to decide whether to nip this headache in the bud or see how it plays out). But here's a brief video about how Advil works.

And here it is, best of the visualization web for May, Part 1 and Part 2.

Thirsty? Got $110? Try a six pack of Sapporo Space Barley, one of the world's most expensive beers.

Wreckage found this week on a glacier in Alaska is likely to be that of a C-124 Globemaster that crashed in 1952.
Don't touch that Excel! Before you make another chart, head over to Juice Analytics' recently updated Chart Chooser and download a template for the right kind of chart for your data.
O proud left foot, that ventures quick within
Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.
Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:
Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.
Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke.
A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.
To spin! A wilde release from heaven's yoke.
Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl.
The Hoke, the poke -- banish now thy doubt
Verily, I say, 'tis what it's all about.
                               ~Shakespeare Tonight
Here's test footage from 1979's Alien with actor Bolaj Badejo practicing the alien creature's walk through the corridors of the Nostromo.

Glass beads made in the Roman Empire have been found in a fifth century Japanese tomb. How'd that happen?

When my time is up this is how I want to go - IN THE ACT! These two turtles are the only known vertebrates fossilized during copulation.
What percent of the software you buy is still on CD or DVD versus download? As a percentage of what we sell it's less than 1%. Is software on CD dead?

If you have music on unwanted CDs or DVDs that you want converted to MP3 try CDSweep. They'll send you a free FedEx mailing label, you send them your CDs, they rip them to MP3 and send you the files, and the CDs and DVDs are sent overseas for resale. Did I mention the whole thing benefits autism research?

Can you handle it? Here's a video summary of one joke from every episode of Mystery Science Theater.

Know yer video standards. source
Did you know there is a Cold War Museum? It's pretty sad that with all the books I've read about Cold War espionage I somehow managed to miss the tale of Rainer Rupp, the worst spy in NATO history.

If you're a fan of Blade Runner, you might enjoy this fan-created hand-painted aquarelle video of the film. (I had to look up the definition of "aquarelle" - "a drawing usually in transparent watercolor."

Author Lee Child is diplomatic (for contractual reasons) about Tom Cruise starring as Jack Reacher. Child is quite pragmatic about how novels get turned into films (this one has been in the works for seven years) and says that with Cruise we'll get 100% of Reacher's character on screen, but only 90% of his height.

A German court has ruled that religious circumcision of young boys is a crime. (Please find your own joke in that. I tried and couldn't come up with any that I liked.)

Another perfectly disturbing Tumblr - Nicolas Cage Cats
...add not unto his riches but take away from his desires. ~Epicurus

Saturday, June 23, 2012

We are happy when for everything inside us...

Acclaimed musician Trey Gunn talks about finding your original voice in this video. "Anything less than BFA is hollow hype." At least be authentic.

How I feel right now. source
If you have even the slightest interest in animated films you should download the PDF catalog for next month's animation auction. The items in the catalog are some of the finest I've ever seen in the few years I've dabbled in collecting. Lot 57 is a production cel from One Froggy Evening (one of the finest animated films ever made) that's expected to go for $3,000-$5,000. If your budget is tighter, there's a set of storyboard panels from a Flintstones episode for $100-$200. If you have no budget limits, there's a pan cel with matching background of the Hag from Snow White that will probably bring upwards of $60,000.

Here on the white trash side of the tracks we don't wrap our vino with a pressed white linen napkin. We just slap on a pair of underpants. Hence Vinderpants.
Web design geeks - What do you think is included in the top 100 markup errors? #2 is using an ampersand for an ampersand instead of for escaping a character reference.

The secret behind a really successful programming language is a really great beard. Tru dat.

Want to learn Python? Try the freely available How to Think Like a Computer Scientist.

HMS E-14, a British submarine from WWI that helped its captain earn the Victoria Cross, has been found intact after being abandoned in 1918. (The lack of detail regarding its abandonment and where it was found is frustrating.)

Satellite photo of Lockheed Martin's Skunk Work reveals unknown secret aircraft under a tarp. zOMG, what are the odds that there would be a secret aircraft at USAF Plant 42?!?!?!
What exactly is ambient music? Is ambience an internal or external quality? Is it minimalist or expansive? Does it stand alone or does it complement the listener's environment? I have no idea. Just give Simon Scott's Below Sea Level a listen. (BTW, you are getting your music reviews from, aren't you?)

Eno and Fripp got together in 1978 and recorded the album Air Structures and now the whole thing is on YouTube for your listening pleasure.

A bank in the former East Germany let people vote on an image for their MasterCard and Karl Marx, author of the Communist Manifesto, was the clear winner. How could they advertise this? "Did I say abolition of private property? I meant acquisition of private property."
Proving the truth of the saying "What's old is new again," this summary of Dale Carnegie's 1948 book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living contains many nuggets that you find repeated in today's crop of self-help business books. My favorite is "No one ever kicks a dead dog" - criticism is often a disguised compliment based on jealousy and envy. (Of course, that's exactly what an often criticized person would think.)

Yes, I enjoy James Bond films. What 13 year old boy wouldn't? Even though I've seen them all, I had a lot of trouble with naming all 25 Bond films in 5 minutes. Good luck. It's harder than it sounds.

So happy. Xenomorph done in Lisa Frank style by GalenaLarkin.
This article runs the risk of being TL;DR but it does tell us Why Google Isn't Making Us Stupid... Or Smart. Many (e.g. Nicholas Carr in The Shallows - read my review) have opined the opposite. "All of the chatter about information superabundance and overload tends not only to marginalize human persons, but also to render technology just as abstract as a yottabyte." (Yes, I realize that my use of TL;DR ironically undermines the premise.)

If you enjoy Scrabble or Words With Friends you'll also like this Scrabble tile poem.

You'd have to be a big fan of James Joyce to visit Leopold's Day and buy a map of Dublin depicting the people in places in Ulysses. Cuz that map ain't cheap.

Picasso's Guernica reimagined with the X-Men.
Ah, the joys of business travel. Everyone's got their favorite stories and here's a list of top hotel peeves that I'm certain you can relate to. #1 Expensive internet. No surprise. #20 No hook for bathrobe near shower. Really? Do people actually wear the bathrobe provide in a hotel room? Ewww. Who was it that told me their company required hotels to split the bill into two parts - lodging/meals and phone/internet? They did that because their accounts payable people would call the hotel and get them to reduce the phone charges most always because of the outrageous rates. This has probably changed considerably since cell phones became the norm. (Which is probably why hotel interwebs is so expensive - they gots to get that money from somewhere.)

Politicians have declared war on large drinking cups. Now they've declared war on urinals by requiring men to pee while seated. Wouldn't it be awesome to have a urinal in your house?

More Tumblr insanity - The German language has several very long words because Friedrich Nietzsche thought it would be funny. There's more at facts I just made up.

I like this post about how someone made the transition from programmer to entrepreneur. Here are six things to be aware of.
  1. The real world is much harder to debug than code.
  2. Business is about people. Be nice.
  3. Recognize that marketing is an ongoing activity that everyone in the company must do. 
  4. Don't let it go to your head - be accountable.
  5. Your day is one long series of interruptions. Get used to it.
  6. You're not good at everything. Hire and delegate.
In probably the least known great success in aerospace history, the unmanned X-37B spaceplane returned from 469 days in orbit. Where have you been? What have you seen? Be sure to watch the video.
Someone's mother didn't tell them it's impolite to point: Pointer Pointer. (I need to start a category called Stupid Interwebs Tricks.)

My father liked mechanical puzzles. They drive me nuts. (You'd think I'd be used to incompetence by now.) Anyway, if you want to see the world's largest collection of mechanical puzzles you'll have to go to Indiana Univ.

At last, an honest movie trailer for Avatar: a 3-hour cartoon about blue cat people begging for help from one white man. Pretty offensive when you think about it.

Tyler and I are on our own this weekend so we're going to have scrounge for dinner. You think a Pinot Grigio will go with this? source
...there is a corresponding something outside us.  ~W.B. Yeats

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Professionals by Owen Laukkenen

At one time or another we've all thought about committing the perfect crime. (And by that I mean hopefully you've had similar anti-social thoughts otherwise I'll have to reexamine my decision to quit therapy.) If watching TV crime dramas is a sufficient schooling in such matters I've probably got a Ph.D in Whodunnit. My stunted upbringing aside, thus begins Owen Laukkenen's The Professionals.

As Laukkenen's 20-something protagonist proclaims late in the story, "Have you seen the job market lately?"   When three friends graduate with liberal arts degrees and find their job prospects to be virtually non-existent one of them sparks an idea with the throw-away line "We should rob banks." One thing leads to another and before you know it they've teamed with a fourth friend (a talented computer programmer who, oddly, cannot find a job in Seattle) and gone into the kidnapping business.

Once you accept that remarkable leap of faith as a starting point for the story the only question that remains is "What could possibly go wrong?" For a while, nothing. The kids implement a low-risk, low-reward form of kidnapping which, like any low margin business, relies on volume for success. Moving weekly from city to city they kidnap one semi-wealthy individual, hold him (no women, no kids) for 24-48 hours, and demand a easily attainable $50,000 - $100,000 ransom and no involvement by the cops. This allows them to make regular scores without leaving a trail (due in part to the fake identities and documentation the hacker is able to produce with little effort and amazing regularity).

Every business hits a few bumps along the way and after a couple of years of performing jobs without a hitch - boom, there's a teensy problem. Researching targets is usually a straight-forward deal but made-men in the mob don't usually don't advertise that information online or anywhere else. Like a deep sea fisher hooking a marlin that's too big for the boat the kids decide to cut the mafioso loose when one of them with poor impulse control and overconfidence grown through easy early success pulls out a gun and...

The kids getaway anything but cleanly and now have the cops, the FBI and the mob on their trail while they desperately seek a way to make early retirement.

As per its title, the story tries to focus on the idea of what a professional is and how being a professional defines your commitment to a job. The four protagonists, despite their early success and their ability to plan, imagines themselves pros but the stakes change when the real professionals start chasing them. The law enforcement types, an FBI agent and her temporary state-policeman partner, also share some of the professional spotlight. But the character whom I wish got a lot deeper treatment was the mob enforcer, D'Antonio. Laukkenen provided tantalizing hints and teasers of what was going on inside his head. He was both professional and unprofessional, chasing the criminals while being one himself. I really wanted more of him.

The Professionals was a solid story despite a couple of leaps of faith on my part to keep from being derailed by the plot. And in my opinion the ending lacked what I thought was an obvious element that I couldn't believe was left out. I can't reveal what I thought was missing without turning this into a spoiler but it really could've enhanced the novel's resolution. (That won't make any sense unless you've also read the book.) Character development was a little light (the computer guy was there to do his bit but added nothing else), sometimes predictable (all females characters were super attractive), and left something on the table (D'Antonio). All things being equal, I'd listen to Laukkenen's second book (this review is based on the audiobook version).

You can find out more about the author at his website,

Saturday, June 16, 2012

We can only begin to live...

Contrary to its title, this article does not tell us why we have personal space only that we do and that it's related to the region in the brain that regulates fear. The zones are:
  1. Intimate space: 18 inches
  2. Personal space: 1.5 - 4.0 feet
  3. Social space: 4 - 12 feet
  4. Public space: 12+ feet
Must-watch video of the week: Symmetry.

Reason I'm Going to Hell #9 - Cyborg Pirate Ninja Jesus. source
Sometimes by trying too hard you can hurt your cause. In The Male Gaze we hear a tale about why sexism is bad with several embarrassing tales from the tech industry (it's like an anti brogrammer rant which is fine cuz anything that equates software developers with frat boys is dangerous). But the tale goes on and on and on and recommends that employees are trained in "feminist theory" (whatever the hell that is) and apologizes for forgetting that transgender females have penises. Just stop already - you had me at "free blow jobs."

Speaking of phallic symbols, only the French could've come up with the C450 Coleoptere.
There is absolutely nothing funny about Jorts.

3 of 7 ain't bad, right? That's how many I've read of these 7 tiny books that pack a big punch. (Included with Machiavelli and Marx is Dr. Seuss.)

We can all read the transcript of the now-infamous "You're Not Special" high school commencement address. (My wife will be mad because she told me to read it about two weeks ago.) "Climb the mountain so you can see the world not so the world can see you."

"Can this cock-Pit hold within this Woodden O?" Perhaps yes since they seem to have found Shakespeare's first theatre, the place where Henry V was first performed (and from which that quote cometh forth.)

My MRI explains a lot. source

Teh interwebs get blamed for everything - this time it's for killing pr0n.

Somewhere out there some little green aliens are trying to make sense of all the sights and sounds we sent with the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. You can see and hear them all at the link.

Watch all the little fishies on Kelp Cam from the Birch Aquarium.

Big. Wooden. Ball. (Tree stump + huge lathe = cool orb)

Floating. Shiny. Knot. (A Google maps street view mashup.)

Title says it all. source
There's some awesome artwork in this peek at the Walt Disney Family Museum's upcoming exhibit on Snow White.

Disney artist Eyvind Earle created this remarkably stylish trailer in 1960 for West Side Story.

Get out your drool cups, Star Wars freaks. Here's some candid, home movie quality, fan-footage of behind the scenes activity during the 1982 filming of Return of the Jedi.

Reimagining Star Wars if done by Dr. Seuss by artist Adam Watson.
Strike Star sounds so bad ass. But it's just a real-time map of lightening strikes in the continental U.S. (Wait, that is bad ass.)

How to kiss from 1942. Dammit, I've been doing it wrong.

I was never a huge fan of material science back in my college days but these two videos are pretty cool. First we have cutting steel and something called iscar chip formation. Second we have slow motion film showing how metal chips are shed by a drill bit.

Aviation pr0n of the week - vapor trails and sonic booms. There are many more pics at the link.
Mystery solved. Amelia Earhart landed, lived on, and probably died on Gardner island in the Pacific.

Spending on groceries in the U.S. has dropped in the 30 years since 1982 and the biggest change in foods bought is the jump in spending on processed foods from 11.6% to 22.9%. (Note: this does not say anything about how much processed food is bought or consumed, just how much is spent on it.)

Delve into some data on county-by-county diabetes rates in the U.S. (sorry southeast and Appalachia) and other data such as income and access to fresh fruit.

What will my craft beer friends say about the Save on Brew "Beer on the Cheap" blog? It will not score many points by calling Stone's Arrogant Bastard "foul."

You can debate the inclusion or exclusion of individuals all day but it's impressive just to get all these people together for Vanity Fair's photo for Paramount's 100th Anniversary.
Adrian Belew looks like your parents' neighbor who's always out working in his garden in Bermuda shorts with dark socks and a plain white t-shirt. But he's also one of the most innovative guitar players around as demonstrated by this 3-part video series on the History and Future of Guitar Noise: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

...when we conceive life as tragedy. ~W.B. Yeats

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Quiet the restlessness of the mind...

English is an inconsistent language with a dubious history but, like democracy, it's the best thing we've got. As for whether English is a global language, like it or not it is but don't infer too much else from that. (One could argue that all modern languages, English included, evolved in the same way the human animal did whereas bastard tongues like Esperanto are the result of politicization of language, calling to mind the adage "A camel is a horse designed by Congress.")

Know yer tweets using Tweet Sentiment Visualization. Enter any keyword and this website graphs tweets about that topic and maps them from pleasant to unpleasant and subdued to active and everything in between.

This is an interesting take on interviewing for a job. There are only three basic interview questions.
  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Will you love the job?
  3. Can we tolerate working with you?
This War Film Alphabet (see if you know them all) is one of the latest of the weekly Friday Projects from the creatives at Wildish & Co.
Science asks the important questions of our time: why are white Americans' heads getting bigger?

Naptime. Face facts: you too would've bought this when you had young kids. This video is worth watching if only for the phrase "wallet-draining crap factories." More facts: If you watch this you're going to hell with me.

Wife Insurance - for common faults, malfunction, and wear.
Repeat after me: neither your nor I are electable to public office.

Does Facebook wreck marriages? More than one third of divorce filings included the word "Facebook" last year. An author of a book on the topic is quoted as saying "It [Facebook] puts temptation in the path of people who would never in a million years risk having an affair." When are people going to stop externalizing blame and realize that people wreck marriages? Temptation lies within the heart of a person, not in some piece of software.

Sir Peter Blake reworked the iconic cover of the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 45 years after he created the original (which is shown at the link for you youngsters).
Gaydar is 4 realz. When shown facial photographs for 50 milliseconds test subjects were able to correctly guess the person's sexual orientation 60% of the time with slightly better and slightly worse results for guessing gay women versus gay men, respectively.  Huzzah, science!

What are the seven traits of successful entrepreneurs? (For a bonus eighth, the author draws on Clayton Christensen's concept of disruption.)
  1. Grit. Be willing to fail and recover quickly from those failures.
  2. Storytelling.  Tell and sell a personal and emotionally story that resonates with your stakeholders.
  3. Salesmanship. Be willing and able to powerfully sell your ideas.
  4. Balance conviction and advice seeking. Develop the ability to know when it's OK to stick with the ideas you've got or seek advice from someone else.
  5. Find the best partners. Attract the best partners to your business and don't micromanage them.
  6. Resourcefulness. Having limited resources is a true blessing.
  7. Be both "harbor" and "ship." In a gender-based spin on hunters vs. gatherers, learn to be both the ship moving forward with goals and the harbor for safe and secure nurturing.
Photo proof that bacon does indeed go with everything.

Please welcome to the periodic table Flerovium (114) and Livermorium (116).
Babe Master School will help you with flirting, teasing, charisma, turning a friend into a lover, and everything else a man needs to woo a woman.

Academy Award winning director Brad Bird spoke at the Walt Disney Family Museum about Walt's storytelling prowess.
  • The coolest thing about the opening to Snow White is revealing that the Evil Queen is slave to her own image.
  • He considers Pinocchio to be the greatest animated film in history.
  • Walt revealed a lot about his relationship with his own father (a workaholic) in Mary Poppins.
  • Cinderella is the most bulletproof film adaptation of a story.
Science is on a roll this week: proof that old people smell different.

I do not question why you'd slice a Formula 1 car in half. I'm curious about why it took 2 years.

The hacking of LinkedIn passwords this week has security on everyone's mind again. The world's worst password requirements blog post makes infamous the Texas Attorney General's site for Child Support. Having used this website myself on numerous occasions I can vouch for its horribleness. Furthermore, the site tends to forget your password every once in a while and getting it reset takes days.

Watch this 3-minute video history of video games with a soundtrack make entirely from the games themselves.

Don't soil yourself, Trekkies. This is the first time all five Star Trek Captains have appeared together.
Europe, the Euro, Germany, Greece, blah, blah, blah. But when you (or the Pew Research Center) poll all these people you get one hilarious result. The English, French, Germans, Spanish, Italians, Poles, and Czechs all believe Germans are the hardest working people. Except for the Greeks who think they're the hardest working. Hope you like them drachmas.

Scientists got themselves a whodunnit. Between 774 and 775 mucho radiation from outer space inundated the northern hemisphere. But there's no evidence of supernova or solar flares at that time, the only sources of such radiation. Where did it come from?

Not the usual Downfall parody, but here's Hitler being informed that Eduard Khil has died. What? You don't know Eduard Khil, the Trololo guy? Dem Soviets really knew their tunez.

Before your next visit to the U.S.of.A you might want to checkout a travel guide or two where you'll find these nuggets of wisdom. (I perhaps have taken a little bit of liberty with the advice.)
  • Don't discuss immigration. Keep your tourist visa handy so they'll know you're going home soon.
  • Watch out for Texas.
  • Don't give your dinner host cash or perfume.
  • Don't plop down in an empty seat at someone else's table in a restaurant.
  • Avoid the ghetto.
  • Keep your distance.
Starry night indeed. A NASA astronaut took these long exposure star trail photos from the ISS.
Only computer science nerds need read about how to shoot yourself in the foot in any programming language.

Some parts of this ten simple rules series of articles are more interesting (starting a company) than others (teaching bioinformatics at the high school level) but still worth a quick perusal. There's Starting a Company (#5 Get professional business help early.) and Graduate Students (#9 Build confidence and a thick skin.).

...only then will you witness everything unfolding from emptiness. ~Lao Tzu

Saturday, June 2, 2012

World Without End by Ken Follet

It certainly took a long time for me to get through the 36 CDs of Ken Follett's World Without End audiobook. But I enjoyed it to the same degree as its prequel, The Pillars of the Earth.

Set almost two centuries after the 12th century events in Pillars, World Without End takes place in the English town of Kingsbridge and presents the stories of various merchants and townspeople, the monks and the nuns, and the ruling class. The novel is set around the plague (aka the black death) and its disastrous effects on the populace.

There's Merthin, a bright young man with architectural skills who wants to build the tallest tower in all of England. His brother, Ralph, has quite a mean streak and puts it to good use. Caris is Merthin's love interest, wants to be a doctor, and is about as much of a feminist was you could be in the year 1330. Gwenda is a peasant girl who's also one of the unluckiest people in the novel. Follett builds the plot around these main characters from their childhood into late adulthood.

As in Pillars, Follett creates characters that are almost tangible, characters that you miss once the novel is over. My prior criticism persists - the bad guys are bad and the good guys are good and there's very little gray. World Without End features even more of both kinds. And like before, there were times when I'd get frustrated because at every turn the bad guys would quash whatever the good guys were trying to do.

However, in World Without End there's sex, sex, sex. Everybody in the 14th century seems to be interested in making the creature with two backs as often as possible. I really got tired of hearing about someone's triangle of pubic hair or someone else's erect penis. Honestly, it got to be distracting.

And another thing about World Without End - the subplots are so intertwined that it often felt like I was listening to a medieval version of Knots Landing. For the record, another TV mini-series is planned for World Without End, to air in England sometime this year. No surprise.

But it's the strength of the characters and what seems to be a historically accurate setting that carries World Without End and makes it enjoyable. The characters overcome my poor appreciation for history (or more accurately, my inability to imagine people of the 14th century as being just like you and me but without the internet). When the TV mini-series' make it here (I think TNT has already run the one for Pillars) I'll try to watch.

I really do need to reread some of Follett's mysteries. I don't recall the characters being that strong. Maybe its just that after spending a couple of months hearing about them that I become used to them. Or maybe Follett is just much more personally interested in and motivated by these period pieces. Regardless, it works for me.

For more information, here's Follett's webpage about the book and one about the TV adaptation.

Life is hard.

The blank page. It's a roadblock, a paralyzing agent, a potent talisman. Its emptiness is a ponderous weight. And that's why we're compelled to fill it with easily generated content. Hence, Lorem Ipsum - quasi-Greek text from a work by Cicero ("Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure.") that's easily cut-and-pasted to banish whitespace and allow us to move forward. And it's good to know what someone besides me is very interested in collecting Lorem Ipsum generators and image generators (like the bears shown below).

 Here are some examples:
  • (Postmodernism) The characteristic theme of the works of Eco is the bridge between class and sexual identity. Sartre promotes the use of neotextual deconstruction to analyse and deconstruct narrativity. 
  • (Zombie) Zombie ipsum reversus ab viral inferno, nam rick grimes malum cerebro. De carne lumbering animata corpora quaeritis. Summus brains sit​​, morbo vel maleficia? 
  • (Gibberish) Zip blobbing flibble boo tizzle dee weeble. Dee hizzle duh wacko flubbity blungtangle, zip zingle kanoodle bam blabbing tangcringle zong.
Kraftwerk's website is exactly how you'd think it would be.

I'm not really good at interpreting Hollywood speak, but I don't think Variety liked Prometheus as evidenced by their review. "...remains earthbound in narrative terms, forever hinting at the existence of a higher intelligence without evincing much of its own."

Chips. Salsa. Double dipping. Bad or not? Scientifically speaking, probably not. Yes, there is bacterial transfer from mouth A to chip to dip to mouth B. But probably not enough to be medically significant. (It's like kissing every other chip dipper at the party. Creepy perhaps, but not especially dangerous.) However, socially speaking the double-dip is probably not acceptable. But what if you're at home among immediate family? (Not that I have a reputation or anything.)

Aviation pr0n of the week: a C-17 kicks up dust on takeoff.
If you prefer your aircraft to be of Cold War vintage, here's the F-80.

What did the 2011 earthquake in Japan sound like? Frankly, like my guts after French onion dip.

The largest whales have a heretofore unknown organ in their jaws that's unlike anything ever seen and is perhaps the reason for their enormous size as it helps them feed.

You too have probably been wondering why the Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft have experienced unexplained deceleration. Science to the rescue. The culprit seems to be anisotropic heating of the spacecraft's generators.

Science is on a roll this week. In breaking news, it has been shown that being touched by a man makes women hot. (Trust me, there's a difference between how this works in the lab and in real life.)

Speaking of touching women, there are several ways I could go with this story about two former Microsoft employees who developed an algorithmic approach to bra sizing and opened an online store. There's the angle of what's the fun of letting a computer assess your boobage. There could be a nice "blue screen" joke about bras. There's also something you could say about them being the Zappos of bras. Sometimes these things write themselves. I must be getting lazy because I'm asking you to write this one yourself.

Jenny McCarthy, on the other hand, is not a scientist. Which is probably why her unofficial position as spokesperson of the anti-vaccination movement has led to the Jenny McCarthy Body Count, a website tallying the number of preventable illnesses and deaths attributable to lack of vaccination since 2007. Jenny, thanks for showing us your boobs but you can keep your mouth shut.

Roy Lichtenstein, Brushstroke with Spatter, 1966. I was listening to a podcast about an exhibit of Lichtenstein's work while writing this post with no intention of including it here. However, one reason why I enjoy the Modern Art Notes podcast is the opportunity to gain a greater appreciation for various works. The discussion about this painting (about 1/3 of the way through the podcast) really opened my eyes.
Is it just me or have their been a lot of words recently written and spoken about science and art? Neil deGrasse Tyson takes a shot in this video which includes interesting thoughts about the difference between artistic and scientific creativity.

Let's now look at it from the artist's side with John Lasseter talking about the future of animation. "Art challenges technology and technology inspires art." Lasseter says even technology's screw ups inspire him to think "what can we do with that?" Which, when I saw this article about the Pixar's physics of hair, reminded me of the screw-ups with Rapunzel's hair that Glen Keane recently showed.

This could be interesting. 250 original works of Disney animation art, primarily from Sleeping Beauty, that had been lost in Japan are being returned. My god, if these ever came up for auction...

My little pony bacon. source
With a tip of the hat to Def Leppard's Pour Some Sugar On Me, here's Put Some Bacon on It. If you to prefer to put things in your bacon instead of putting your bacon on things, here's a bacon koozie.

How to shoot abstract images with a digital camera. 50 animated GIFs. (Do not look at this if you already have a headache.) Or just interact with these droplets.

Advice for a new president. Not the one we'll get in several months, but the one we got 30 years ago. However, one might say that what was good then will be good now too. 

I'm gonna hang out at the internet tonight. source
Last week a map of England by authors caught my fancy. This map of NYC by rappers does absolutely nothing for me.

Creepy is not how I'd describe these photos of abandoned missile silos. But rare is an accurate description of these photos from Life magazine of the aftermath of an atomic bomb test in 1955.

It's even harder when you're stupid. ~John Wayne