Saturday, February 23, 2013

The difference between reality and fiction...

Ever hear a song and think you've heard it somewhere else? Use Sounds Just Like to find songs that sound just like each other. For example, Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London sounds just like Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama.

This could turn out to be very interesting: researchers at Ohio State developed a way to burn coal but capture 99% of the CO2. Now that successful tests are complete, a pilot plant for coal-direct chemical looping, as the technique is called, is slated to start up in late 2013.

OK Star Wars geeks, slow your roll - Harrison Ford has been confirmed for Star Wars VII.

Good advice never goes out of style. The Art of Kissing from 1936 includes gems like this: "That is why, when kissing, there should be as many contacts, bodily contacts, as is possible. Snuggle up closely together. Feel the warm touch of each other’s bodies."
The bad news: reduction of the sense of smell begins as early as age 30, affects about half of us by age 50 and three quarters of us by age 80. The good news: you can retrain your sense of smell.

Fans of touch guitarist Markus Reuter will enjoy Older Than God, a series of brief videos about Markus' life and music.

Get this: the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle manifests itself at the macroscopic level. Pause to let that sink in.

Begin Map Fetish

I've never heard anyone in Texas refer to soft drinks in general as Cokes. But I did grow up in Ohio calling them pops. So where lies the truth? source
Why should the Russians have all the fun? Use Impact: Earth! to simulate a meteor impact on the planet.

Maybe this will give everyone a better idea of how big the moon is.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, show where high speed rail will go.
End Map Fetish

Twitter tells us that Hawai'i is the happiest state and Louisiana is the saddest. But when one of your happy keywords is "beach" your analysis of geotagged tweets is certainly going to bias toward coastal regions being happier.

Ever wanted to hear tweets? I don't mean have them read to you. I mean hear what they sound like. Check out Tweet Concrete. (Does not work in Firefox. Login to your Twitter account required. Too lazy to add diacritical.)

Wanna buy some stock? Check out the Bloomberg Businessweek 50.
Bambi Meets Godzilla

Graduates of arts colleges have more student loan debt.

There are two reasons this article about the in-flight menu for U-2 pilots got my attention. The first is rather obvious. The second not so much.  

A spy chart for spy planes, satellites, drones, and probably other stuff. These "optical calibration targets" can be found around the US (and other places) with Google maps.
Everything you'd like in a website - interactivity, colors, and hexadecimal.

Google's Chromebook Pixel touchscreen laptop. Starts at $1,300 with 32GB and WiFi.

Bringing art and science together: knitting mathematical shapes, like the Klein bottle shown here.
One benefit of being a space station astronaut is having Peter Gabriel and his family call you from mission control.

All the things I'd like to write about this web page are too bizarre even for this lowly forum (which you'll find odd when you read what comes next). On one hand it's like alien genitalia and on the other hand it's like a child's fuzzy toy. But it's just horrible.

I'm sorry but when you use your penis cake pan to make a firework cake it still looks like a penis.
Bacon = good. Sex = good. Therefore, bacon-scented personal lubricant = good. The first thing that popped into my mind when I saw that was to wonder how long the scent lasted. Think about it.

"Our track record is clear: since 9/11, not a single 9/11 has happened again. The news story currently going viral concerning a passenger’s scrotum is not representative of our otherwise successful track record." This statement courtesy of the TSA Policy and Statement Generator.

If pooping blows your mind you're forcing it. The Kama Pootra.

What is Urjnasw Xkfjjkn up to now? Well, for one thing, he gave me this video of Taylor Swift feat. Goat. (If you don't LOL there's something dead inside you.)

And now it's time for Nulling the Void.

Hello? Hello? that fiction has to make sense. attributed to both Mark Twain and Tom Clancy

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Soup by Stick Men

Soup is the 2010 debut album of the trio Stick Men consisting of Tony Levin (Chapman stick), Pat Mastelotto (drums), and Michael Bernier (Chapman stick). It's obvious from whence the group's name arose: two guys playing Chapman sticks and one guy swinging two drum sticks. It's less clear where the album's title came from other than the cover art of the guys eating soup.

Stick Men's 2012 album Deep (see my review) was very enjoyable and led to my purchase of Soup. Had it been the other way around I'm not certain I would've rushed so quickly to get Deep.

Don't get me wrong. Soup is a strong album but it starts out weak. The eponymous track Soup is kind of silly - I don't have any better way of putting it. The spoken word lyrics are just odd. Maybe this track would've been better left for the end of side 1 (for those of you who remember vinyl) but not the opener.

Hands (Parts 1-3) gets back to the serious jamming. Part 1 has a strong King Crimson feel from the Discipline/Beat period. What amazes me is the range of sounds Levin and Bernier are able to achieve with the Chapman stick - you forget it's just two guys playing. After all this rapid-fire playing of Hands, the album segues into Inside the Red Pyramid and flowing, pulsing, melodic richness.

Speed returns with Fugue where the two Chapman sticks race headlong and finally Mastelotto's drumming achieves parity with the other players. That's followed by Sasquatch, an almost Fripp-like rhythmic piece that might be my favorite on the entire album. Again, Mastelotto's drumming is an integral part of the overall piece, more so than the previous tracks. Scarlett Wheel brings back more traditional melody and vocals (and to continue making analogies to other musicians) with a Peter Gabriel feel.

Every prog rocker's favorite classical piece (or so it seems), The Firebird Suite, is featured on tracks 9-12. The album then closes with Relentless, an up-tempo rocker that seems to have it all - rumbling bass lines, screeching melodic lines, pensive interludes, and everything in between.

Fans of Stick Men or any of its members will want to add Soup to their collection. For the newbie seeking an introduction, I'd jump right into Deep first.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Genius may have its limitations...

Film & Art

What outcome would you expect from splicing together bits and pieces of vintage documentaries and other films into a new and un-narrated film? Granted, I'm a sucker for vintage documentary film like old newsreels or Cold War era nuke stuff or even those films we used to watch in elementary school about any old topic. But Panorama Ephemera is a most interesting creation for the next time you have 90 minutes. I find it simultaneously and paradoxically soothing with an undercurrent of tension.

Are you ready for a CGI remake of How The Grinch Stole Christmas? Look at it this way, it couldn't be any worse than Ron Howard's horrific live action remake from 2000.

Maybe I should be as nonchalant as Julie Andrews is about the remake of Sound of Music.

Piet Mondrian, Lozenge Composition with Yellow, Black, Blue, Red and Gray, 1921
In a review of MoMA's Inventing Abstraction exhibit we read that artists sought to discard materialism and seek the essence of truth through color.

Come you creative types, share your sins on the Creative Confessional. For example, "I think clip art is gorgeous."

Sips & Nibbles

Bacon couldn't make bourbon taste any worse, right? Coming soon, Old Major Bacon Bourbon. I want to see this reviewed on Booze Dancing.

How many brew quaffing vessels do you really need? Seirra Nevada and Dogfish Head think you need one more beer glass designed specifically for IPAs.

Bits & Bytes

Interested in a computer you wear on your wrist? StormFly is a bootable computer in USB format. Walk up to any computer, plug in the StormFly, and reboot. You can fund their Kickstarter project which is about half way to their goal of $100,000.

Just how good of a programmer are you? Test yourself with this very complete and very descriptive programmer competency matrix from Starling Software. Starling uses this in their interview process which is equally rigorous.

Macula - a typeface and an illusion in one.
Multicolr image search from TinEye Labs is pretty amazing. Choose some colors and the search results consist of Flickr images that use those colors predominantly.

The four hardest computing problems on earth include topics from computational biology, chemistry, cosmology and one other field. (I thought the hardest computing problem was uninstalling Norton Antivirus.)

Take this quiz to find out how geek you really are. Believe it or not, I'm only 52% geek.

Odds & Ends

Map fetish revealed: The United Equally Populated States. I guess I live in the state of Trinity.
Hitler's food taster reveals all. OK, not all. But some. Like he was a vegetarian.

How empty is a vacuum? Not empty enough to preclude the possibility of flashes of light.

What relevant advice could matronly author Amelia Barr have? Seems quite a bit as exemplified by her list of 9 rules for success. #4 Fortune sells her wares; she never gives them.

Music & Lyrics

Vsauce asks the question "Will we ever run out of new music?" Mathematically it seems the answer is no. But practically, the answer seems like we already have. This 10 minute video includes links to several other resources that are worth pursuing (including the bizarre Stairway to Gilligan's Island that I'm listening to now.) But to answer Vsauce's question, I believe it was Quincy Jones who famously said that all melodies have already been written - all that changes is the rhythm.

wajobu reviews Celer's Black Vinyl Series and loves them but I must've missed the boat. I like a good ambient drone as much as the next guy but the first couple of listens didn't raise my sails.

Get out your tie die and your bong for this collection of rare and vintage Pink Floyd videos.

Laurie Anderson has a little chat with Brian Eno about his latest album, Lux.

Whack & Crack

Hawt slug on slug action. The sea slug amputates its disposable penis after mating but has two spares as backups.
With one exception, these 50 things shouldn't be done by anyone regardless of whether they're over 50 or not.

With Valentine's Day in the rear view mirror I'm wondering how many of you fell for the old "diamonds are a girl's best friend" line. Cuz hold on, diamonds are a dude's best bro too. Or more specifically sperm really likes diamonds.

Who is Urjnasw Xkfjjkn and why do you want to know him?

...but stupidity is not thus handicapped. ~Elbert Hubbard

Friday, February 15, 2013

Proof That College Doesn't Make You Smart

No job requires a college degree. That statement unto itself is factually true.

But the rest of Sorry Left AND Right, No Job Requires A College Degree from Forbes is a bucket of warm piss begging to be dumped over the author's head.

Author John Tamny (holder of a BA and an MBA, perhaps from the University of Texas if what teh interwebs tells me can be believed) makes the fundamental error of confusing skills with aptitude.

Again, I'll agree with the premise that a college degree is not required for any job. What's required is a certain set of knowledge, aptitude, and a few skills that you can apply productively to the job.

At the risk of being annoying, I'm going to select some of my favorite lines from the article and present them to you for discussion.

"...computers and calculators have largely made the need for math knowledge something of the past." Wow. Chalk up some good ignorance points right off the bat. This is why McDonald's has photos of the food on the cash registers so as not to confuse their employees and why it's so hard to find a cashier who can actually make change. And maybe if consumers had a bit more math knowledge maybe they wouldn't have taken mortgage loans they couldn't afford. And maybe the electorate would appreciate the federal government's fiscal issues a bit more and apply that leverage at the ballot box. Hell, maybe Congress could use a little more math knowledge to keep us out of fiscal problems in the first place.

"...universities “equipping” students with the knowledge needed to succeed in the real world after four largely wasted (literally and figuratively) years on campus." Now our children are not only chasing an expensive pipe dream but they're alcoholics and drug abusers too. Perhaps Tamny spent too much time on 6th street during his academic tenure in Austin.

"...the dirty little secret is that nothing learned during the four (or five) fun-filled years on idyllic campuses has anything to do with either form of employment." The forms of employment the author refers to are being a barista or an investment banker. This provides a bit of insight into why the investment banking field is so fucked up (and unethical) if the person pouring my latte can also handle credit default swaps. (Recall the author's previous statement about not needing to know math.)

"Ultimately the top financial firms are looking for “good athletes”; as in people who are smart and who work hard. Anything you need to know you’ll learn on the job." No experience necessary! Work from home! Apply today! Maybe the financial world needs a better analogy than the world of professional sports because the headlines there aren't shining beacons of truth.

"As fun as time spent in college is (this writer highly recommends it), it’s pure fantasy to assume that knowledge gained on campus translates to a hyper-dynamic business world. In truth, be it history, finance, engineering, English, or even pre-Med, anything taught is almost by definition yesterday’s news." A startling insight - history is about yesterday's news. Christ, can this get any more moronic? College courses provide a deep background in a field that's incrementally built, that self-reinforces and develops analytic abilities and the ability to synthesize knowledge. And don't even get me started on "hyper-dynamic business world." 

"Thinking of engineers here, and the clamoring for more engineering degrees, anyone teaching the discipline would as a rule be imparting knowledge of no practical use. Sorry, but the latter is just basic economics. If the professor had knowledge of future engineering applications, the same professor would be making billions in the private sector." It's hard to imagine a more insulting statement to academics than this regurgitation of the "those who can do, those who can't teach" argument. It's akin to saying that if finance professors knew anything they'd be making billions in the market instead of teaching. If I knew the winning lottery numbers I'd be rich. It's farcical. And apparently the author is unaware that an engineering professor's primary job is to do leading edge research, not teach.

"An engineering degree signals that you’re smart, and probably hard working, but the major itself doesn’t make you smart." For someone who doesn't place much value in college degrees, he's kinda put engineers up on a pedestal here. I know for a fact that an engineering degree doesn't make you smart - there are plenty of engineers running around out there who aren't all that smart. What he conveniently forgets is the whole idea of GPA, grade point average. Sure you have an engineering degree but is your GPA 2.5 or 3.9? The latter tells me that either a) you were born with a gift or b) you worked hard to achieve.

Which brings me to this statement: "Employers [are] interested that you were smart enough to get into Yale in the first place." So now it's all about the good ol' boy network, damn that achievement thing. Give the secret I Slappa Thigh handshake and we'll put you on the trading floor tomorrow. Sure, being accepted into Yale is an achievement. But what matters is what happens on exit - what did you accomplish while there?

Finally, here's the author's parting advice: "migrate toward a field of employment that you’re passionate about. If so, you’ll never be lazy again and you’ll be very successful." I wonder what measures of success he'll apply to all those underwater basketweaving majors? Hopefully they're not handling funds in my 401(k).

For the record, I have a B.S. and M.S. in engineering. And apparently I'm qualified to write for a magazine.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Higher Call by Adam Makos

Most of the time all you want from a book is entertainment or escape. And then there are times when a book surprises you with a perspective that you hadn't considered before. Such is the case with Adam Makos' A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II.

The essence of the story is rather simple and brief and is revealed in relatively few pages. A lone, heavily damaged B-17 bomber is limping back to England when it is discovered by an equally alone, but fully armed, Me 109. Rather than finish off the obviously crippled bomber, the German pilot flies in close formation with it and escorts the B-17 through AA gun emplacements until they're over water, breaking off with  salute when the B-17 can proceed unmolested back to England.

The book ponders the simple question, "Why?" The German pilot risked a firing squad should his failure to shoot down the bomber became known. Even the Allies slapped a "top secret" label on the incident fearing that other bomber crews would let other fighter pilots come right alongside for the kill shot.
John Shaw painted his impression of the encounter between the B-17 and the Me 109.
While a good portion of the book consists of the B-17 pilot's backstory (a man named Charlie Brown, believe it or not when you consider the doghouse pilot Snoopy), the vast majority of the book involves the story of the German pilot who turned out to be not just any pilot, but one of Germany's premier pilots who at the end of the war was piloting the jet-powered Me 262 as part of the country's most elite remaining squadron (Franz Stigler).

A Higher Call is a story of Stigler's faith, his professionalism, and his adherence to the pilot's code that led to that singular act of chivalry. Let's be clear, no one is whitewashing WWII here - B-17 crews dropped tons of bombs that killed thousands of people and Me 109 pilots shot down countless Allied aircraft killing their crews. Both men continued to perform their duties throughout their service during the war.

So it it splitting hairs to revel in this single act? The book makes it extremely clear throughout that Stigler and his associates were not Nazis (the political party) despite serving in the military under their direction. Stigler's immediate commanders and friends were on the verge of being arrested and shot by Goering, head of the German air force, for acts that bordered on treason (at least within the context of their regime). While Stigler retired to Canada, many of his comrades remained in Germany and eventually went on to great careers in the Luftwaffe when it was reformed during the Cold War (i.e. they became the good guys).

With so many killed during WWII, does this tale even matter? In what must have been like winning the lottery, 45 years after the fact the two pilots did in fact meet. Their airborne encounter had made lasting impressions on both of them and when the two men finally met there were tears, an embrace and true brotherhood as they filled in the blanks for each other on what they were thinking during the encounter and how their lives had fared since. For Stigler, the reward was seeing the wives, children, and grandchildren of the crew he had let escape.

In fact, in one of his last writings to Brown before his death, Stigler said that Brown was as precious to him as his own brother, a man who had lost his life in WWII. And while Stigler and Brown were celebrated in their waning years as they told and retold their story, many of Stigler's countrymen did not feel so kindly as evidenced by the crank calls he'd receive calling him a coward, traitor, or worse. Even Stigler's former commanding officer was ambivalent when told the story decades later.

So what exactly is it about this story that's so compelling? Like most things in life, it boils down to the interaction of two people. In this case, in the midst of bloody combat, it's a story of honor. Despite knowing full well that had circumstances been different Stigler would've shot down Brown's aircraft like any of the other victories he scored, we can appreciate the fact that he went about his business with professionalism and also an appreciation for life within the overall context of death. What's the old saying? Loss of one life is tragic - loss of a million is a statistic. Character is revealed by what you do when no one else is watching.

The fear is that we're giving some sort of absolution to the entire German military during WWII. The fear is that two old men, feeling lucky to have survived WWII and knowing their time on earth is coming to an end, have embellished this tale to feel better about what went on all those years ago over Germany. The fear is that this respect will be extrapolated to other enemies, past and present, who don't deserve it. But I don't think that's the case. Even the USAF opened the files on this incident and awarded the B-17's entire crew the Silver Star and Brown was awarded the Air Force Cross.

There's a nice video preview of the book (including interviews with Brown and Stigler) to watch here. The author's website is here.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Larks' Tongues in Aspic (40th Anniversary Edition) by King Crimson

Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp are doing a fine job of remixing King Crimson's catalog. Having previously found the remixed In the Court of the Crimson King (orig. 1969) to be utterly fantastic (my comments), it was no stretch for me to buy and start enjoying the remixed Lark's Tongues in Aspic (orig. 1973).

First, a cautionary note. If you think that In the Court of... is too early progressive, too experimental, and too psychedelic you should probably stay away from Lark's Tongues because it's all of those things and more. The music on Lark's Tongues was progressive back in the day when it only sounded experimental - like early Pink Floyd wrapped with an esoteric mathematical structure.

The 40th Anniversary Edition includes a CD and a DVD, the former with the remixed album (stereo) plus alternative mixes of three tracks. The DVD has the original album and the remixed album in 5.1 surround plus some video features. I'm only writing about the stereo remix of the album which consists of six tracks.
  1. Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Part 1)
  2. Book of Saturday
  3. Exiles
  4. Easy Money
  5. The Talking Drum
  6. Lark's Tongues in Aspic (Part 2)
It's obvious right from the opening of track 1 that this is going to be an amazing experience. The noodling percussion parts that used to be a muddled blur on the LP are distinct and vibrant and build slowly into an explosion of guitar and bass. The interplay of all instruments on the remainder of the piece is enhanced simply by the fact that all the parts have been lifted and separated in the remix.

The next three tracks capture John Wetton's vocals at their prime and make it clear why he was one of the top prog rock vocalists of his day. The mix of his singing with the flute and violin parts is done with such a light touch that they effortlessly propel these songs forward, especially Exiles.

I'll use The Talking Drum to point out that in my opinion the biggest beneficiaries of this remix are Bill Bruford (drums) and Jamie Muir (percussion). By comparison you could say that previous versions of this track (from vinyl, for example) are The Mumbling Drum. Everything is so precise in the remix that the clarity is almost startling, like a bright light without the harshness. It's also important to point out that the remix has not detracted in anyway from the vintage nature of the performances. You sometimes fear that a remix will give the updated work too modern of a sheen but that's not the case here. You can almost see the tie-dye in that bright light.

Finally, the gem here is the closing track and the KC staple, Lark's Tongues in Aspic (Part 2). After hearing this track and its progeny countless times over the decades it's great to return to the original as it must have sounded in the recording studio. The dynamics, the interplay of the parts, and the clarity of each individual part are all there to enjoy.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Only he is an emanicipated thinker...

So last night I learned that the 1956 scifi classic Forbidden Planet (you know, the one with Robby the Robot) is a reimagining of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Makes me wonder what else I've been missing.

Do you think frickin' laser beam weapons (aka directed energy) are strictly scifi? Think again.

Clyfford Still, Untitled, 1964, collection of the Dallas Museum of Art
User experience (aka UX). Many people use the term. Few understand what it means. So here's a Venn diagram illustrating the UX disciplines.

Using a byproduct called spent grain, Alaskan Brewing Co. has reduced their energy usage by 60% while continuing to produce award-winning beers.

Search for the best GIFs on the web using Giphy.

Back in the year 775 the earth was irradiated by a two-second gamma ray burst resulting from the collision of two black holes between 3,000 and 12,000 light years away. (When you read the article it's hard to miss the blatant, comical error.)

After I put Stiffy the Cat on my Facebook page (just do a Google image search for Stiffy the cat - it should be the first result) someone sent me procatinator.

A visual guide to espresso drinks.

When the components of a system interact, behaviors may result that aren't found in the individual components. This is called emergence.

There's a lot going on here - an interactive, 360 video of a helicopter flight over four erupting volcanoes.

Or this 360 photo from the top of the Burj Kahlifa.

Bacon. Cotton. Candy.
In this review of a book on Duke Ellington, he's quoted as saying "You can't write music right unless you know how the man that'll play it plays poker."

Unless you remember dialup forget about this incredibly detailed graphic that illustrates and explains a modem handshake.

Science shows us that some spiders have large enough brains and small enough bodies that their brains extend into their legs, giving a modicum of credence to the observation that men think with their third leg.

Science answers the unasked question: Why is the penis shaped like that? (Don't laugh - it's from Scientific American. Hint to answer: "semen displacement theory." Hmm, that's probably too strong of a hint.) 

What's old is new again. NASA is learning from, refurbishing, and firing the Saturn V's F-1 engines (i.e. Apollo moon rocket) and hoping lessons learned can be applied to the new SLS.

Are you really concerned about how many hours of daylight you'll have? Then fret no more: Daylight Hours Explorer.

Submarine Map 2013 - source
How well do you know vim? Like do you know these 100 vim commands every programmer should know? (For example, what does gggUG do?)

Tweetping - a map-based website for monitoring Twitter in real time. (Very cool to watch.)

Grilled cheese guacomole and bacon bruschetta. Am I kidding myself or would this be awful?

That prankster Ahmadinejad has been sniffin' too much airplane glue if he thinks we believe his oversized toy is actually Iran's Qaher-313 stealth fighter.

This nice periodic table of spices is one thing, but at the link you'll see how you can make and stock a real one to hang on your kitchen wall.
I knew it! And science has now proved it! All things being equal, the express checkout line isn't faster.

Tales and photos of clandestine visits to Vandenberg's ICBM sites.

In Egypt, diarrhea is cause by dirty breasts. Dirty, dirty breasts.

Teh interwebs was made for stuff like this: a collection of vintage bottle caps.

Endurance test: how long can you listen to this demonstration of DJ tricks called turntablism?

From the Things I Didn't Think You Could See deparment, this page purports to show photographs of Revolutionary War veterans.

How did I end up with two completely different maps of undersea cables this week?
Say it ain't so - scientific genius is extinct.

Stardust: a short bit of astronomy pr0n.

...who is not afraid to write foolish things. ~Anton Chekhov

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Finally, 29 CDs and a couple of months later, I reached the last page of Justin Cronin's The Passage, the first installment in his Passage trilogy. You may recall that I have already read the second installment, The Twelve. (Reading them out of order, while not necessarily recommended, was not an impediment to enjoyment.)

I'll get right to the point. The Passage is excellent, one of the best thrillers I've read in a long time. It grabbed my interest with a post-apocalyptic setting, pulled me forward plot full of action and twists, and kept me engaged with three-dimensional characters. And while I won't claim The Passage to be high literature, it is very well written.

If you look on Goodreads or other venues you might find The Passage classified in the horror genre. Calling it horror is laughable. Worse, some might be tempted to lump it in with zombie fiction. (The basic premise is the unintentional release of a biological agent from a government research lab that has cataclysmic effects on the populace). What's truly laughable is World War Z (previously and negatively reviewed as a nice set of notes for a book) is on the verge of big screen release starring Brad Pitt. Compared to The Passage, World War Z is like a 4th grader's creative writing project.

But I digress.

If you're looking for a good book, try Justin Cronin's The Passage and follow that with The Twelve. While you're doing that, I'll be waiting for his final installment, The City of Mirrors, due in 2014.

You can read more about Cronin's work at

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The more powerful and original a mind...

Michael Bernier, ex of Stick Men, has posted Edge of Death, a work in progress from his upcoming album. It's about the terror he experienced within a grand Mal seizure told from a King Crimson-esque point of view.

Kurt Vonnegut's 8 rules for great writing seem to be very relevant to writing on teh interwebs. For example, #5 Sound Like Yourself (not what your teacher probably required which is that you sound like a century-old English gentleman).

When is a nickel not worth five cents? When it's a rare (only five are known to exist) 1913 Liberty Head Nickel (1913 was the year the Buffalo Nickel began minting). At auction in April someone is probably going to pay in excess of $2.5 million for it.

Clyfford Still, 1956-PH 233. Read about this painting and more in an article about the Still Museum's current exhibit.
To keep the arty farty vibe going, check out MoMA's Tumblr for their current exhibition, Inventing Abstraction.

Know yer states. Of Matter. Gas, liquid, solid. Oh, don't forget plasma. But hark! What does science bring us? A spin-liquid, a solid with some characteristics of a liquid caused by electrons that can't orient themselves magnetically.

As I sit here sipping my green tea, I'm also reading this list of the advantages of drinking green tea. Reduces stress and depression?  Sure, why not.

Music history in animated GIFs is a misnomer. It's more like music the author likes in animated GIFs. Regardless, someone's spent a lot of time on this.

 photo paolo-ceric-gif-art_zps7938bcbd.gif
The amazing animated GIFs of Paolo Ceric. (My apologies for being too lazy to add the diatricals.)

Wanna be smarter? Stop multi-tasking. Imagine smoking a joint and then trying to get work done. Multi-tasking is three times worse. Other tips at the link.

All other reasons for despising the North Korean regime pale in comparison to this: they don't like big boobs.

How do you get everyone onboard for organizational change? Is that more complicated if everyone consists largely of engineers? Would they benefit from a formula? The formula for change says D x V x F > R which cryptically means that for any change to overcome resistance R, the product of the current dissatisfaction D, the vision V, and the first steps F toward the vision have to exceed the resistance to change. Frankly, this is all bullshit as the alphabet soup can't be quantified. But I suppose it provides a framework for thinking about and communicating change.

What has 300% of the Vitamin C of an orange, 50% more calcium than spinach, is chock full of anti-oxidants, and tastes good? The fruit of the African baobo tree. And you might start seeing it in your grocery store soon.

What happens when social media and chemistry get together? You end up with the periodic table of Twitter handles (i.e. Twitter users who use an element name as their handle as in @nitrogen).

Why so sad? Wait. WTF? Those buckets are hanging from his eyelids.
Hooray for us. Fort Worth is #9 in the nation for healthiest (job growth, low vacancy, low foreclosures) housing markets.

This might keep you busy for hours. Remix of the Century lets you visualize the top Billboard hits of the last century via various criteria (number of weeks on the charts, tempo, key, danceability) and then play a mashup of the resulting tunes.

Just a 360 degree photograph of London taken from 300 meters up.

Technology companies have business incubators so it's only fair that there be an incubator for breweries too.

Speaking of breweries, we're getting another one close to home: Grapevine Craft Brewery.

Science shows us the difference between and ale and a lager.

A pet tortoise survived for 30 years after being lost and forgotten in a storage room. (Sounds like being married.)

It's been in the news a lot so I went out and got me a fake girlfriend. Meet Toni VonNostrin, a theology major from Oklahoma Christian University whose favorite place to eat is Rax Restaurants. Courtesy of the Fake Girlfriend Generator.
Hey, Android phone people. Test your 3D skills with Rotal, a shape matching game.

Hey, astronomy geeks. Have you seen video of Nova GK Persei that exploded in 1901?

What do astronomy geeks have in common with dung beetles? They both like looking into the night sky. The dung beetle uses stellar navigation to roll his balls of dung in a straight line. No shit.

Yet again, science tackles the tough problems of our day. Up until now (to the best of my knowledge) no one has applied game theory to the issue of leaving the toilet seat up or down. (I will not spoil it for you and tell you who comes out ahead.)

There are places I've visited in Europe where I swear they don't know that we've invented ways to move air. This one airport, despite being crowded with moving people, was stuffy and close, the air like cotton. There have been hotel rooms where you can't turn the heat off. On the other hand, I bet our visitors think we're trying to freeze them out with air conditioning. Here's an article about the concept of comfort and how it's influenced by culture and how those influences are being eroded by internationalization. (One interesting tangent is the siesta and how it's going away. The siesta dovetails nicely with something I linked to a while ago that back in the day it was normal for people to wake up in the middle of the night for a couple of hours before going back for a second sleep.)

When Shakespeare wrote about shuffling off this mortal coil he wasn't referring to DNA. But DNA's thinking of him. Or more precisely, science has encoded all of Shakespeare's sonnets in DNA.

I know someone who likes Nintendo and pancakes. Draw your own conclusion.
Flying the B-52: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

How to get hit by a fish. First, the wrong way. Second, the right way. (Kids these days, ruining everything.)

Watch former Disney animator Glen Keane demonstrate how he'd animate a dancer.

These words when strung together seem to make no sense: GANGSTA RIDDIM music video by about:blank track by Roel Funcken. But just watch the video.

An opalized (not fossilized) dinosaur tooth. Astonishing.
People without children might think this is all a joke but trust me - it's real. 46 reasons my 3-year-old might be freaking out. (His brother is talking, I gave him the wrong blue crayon, the inside of his nose stinks.)

After all that, you deserve some time in the thoughts room.

...the more it will incline toward the religion of solitude. ~Aldous Huxley