Last month, artist and designer Syver Lauritsen was on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok to Beijing. A few of the passengers got into a fight. What are they saying? Lauritsen has lived in Beijing for 6 months, so now he speaks Chinese like a native. He helpfully subtitled the dialogue in English. The passengers are fighting over the merits of various Teletubbies.
At McSweeney's, Captain Ariel Karlin writes of her great dilemma. We all grow up with images of space captains sending their enemies out airlocks in quick but bloody deaths. But we never expect to end up doing exactly what they did:
Listen, I know how this looks. I always said I wasn’t going to be “that guy.” Just because I have an airlock doesn’t mean I have to throw anyone out the airlock. And yes, at this point, it’s pretty overdone. But seriously, please step through the first airtight door.
It probably seems like every jackass with a spaceship is constantly throwing someone or other into space. And I don’t necessarily think of myself as the type of person who does things just because I have a certain role and I’ve seen representations of other people in that role behave a certain way. I hope you don’t think I’m that type of person either. Now take five steps forward so you’re in the center of the pressure vessel passageway.
Don’t look at me like that. This is hard for me, too! It’s a kick in the gut when you realize that the person you are as an adult doesn’t match up with who you thought you’d grow up to be. I thought a lot of things about my life would be different. I thought I’d be married by now. I thought I’d still be on Earth. I thought we were many years away from perfecting humanoid cybernetic organisms who could successfully challenge the authority of humankind. And I just never really saw myself as the type of guy who’d let anyone be ripped out of his spaceship into the vast unknown darkness.
It's okay, Captain. You're doing the right thing. The rest of us are completely loyal and will back you up.
Lilly Allen is a baby girl. Her father, Michael Stansbury, is a fitness coach. But for this video, she takes over that role and leads her father on a tough aerobic and bodyweight workout. As she moves, Michael imitates her motions. He keeps up pretty well, but I'm not sure that he would have lasted a few more minutes.
Michael Rakowitz is an artist in New York City. For years, he's worked on projects to help the homeless of that city. Many of this creations are variations of a design concept that he calls ParaSITE. His ParaSITE shelters are custom-built assemblies of plastic bags and tarps that feed off of excess heat provided by building heating systems. Rakowitz's shelters channel that heat into inflating and warming their owners.
Rakowitz designs the shelters to fit the needs of the individual owners. The one at the top was designed to get around anti-camping laws in New York City. The one in the middle has windows so that the resident can see any approaching threats. The one on the bottom is designed to resemble Jabba the Hutt.
This mesmerizing object is an automaton made by Dean O'Callaghan. It's designed to look like a drop of rain hitting a pool of water. As he turns the crank, concentric rings of water emanate from the center. O'Callaghan attributes the idea to sculptor Reuben Margolin.
That didn’t turn out as planned. But this is a good opportunity to make a sale to the local medical school. Offer a discount price if they don’t ask questions. And in the future, don’t kiss any frogs. If you don’t know their origin, you can’t be held responsible.
Khurshid Hussein set a new Guinness World Record for typing with his nose when he correctly entered a 103-character sentence in just 47.44 seconds. This clobbers the old record of 1 minute, 33 seconds.
Don’t expect him to keep it long. When Alex is out of the office, we all practice this skill. As you might expect, Jill is in the lead.
Your relationship and your warp drive are fully operational with this ring by Etsy seller Joel Wagner. It’s shaped like the VISOR (yes, all capital letters) worn by Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s sterling silver, made with 3D printing technology and can process light in the infrared and ultraviolet ranges.
Wagner, being a modern artist and businessman, accepts Bitcoin for payment. But why not gold-pressed latinum?
Will it beard? That is the great question--one pondered by philosophers since the dawn of time. Pierce Thiot, a beardist of beardly proportions, conducts experiments about the beardability of different objects. Every day, he puts new and different things into his beard to further advance humanity's grasp of beardology.
You can find the photographic record of his explorations here.
The sleeper must awaken . . . and get ready for the day. So pull on your stillsuit and sit down at the table of Chris-Rachael Oseland. She's the Kitchen Overlord--the chef famous for preparing foods that every geek would enjoy.
This week, Chris-Rachael celebrated Dune Week. Here are some of her recipes from that week. Pictured above is her Sandworm Wellington. It's a turkey tenderloin wrapped with crescent roll slices and toothed with sliced almonds. There's also, of course, a touch of melange for flavor.
Here's her Sandworm Crudite. When entertaining offworld guests, start them off with this pile of hummus, then start up a thumper to summon a cucumber worm.
Some people in the Empire prefer to take their melange in the form of cookies. So take a bite out of Chris-Rachael's Sandworm Spice Cookies.
If you like to go native while travelling, then I suggest that you try these two dishes while visiting Arrakis. This is tabara, a heavy cake eaten by the Fremen. It's best served with hot spice tea.
Still hungry? Chris-Rachael has even more. Visit Kitchen Overlord to view more foods from Dune Week.
It's 2014. Why are you still using a toothbrush with a dial-up connection? Get with the times, man! The Oral-B tooth care company has developed an electric toothbrush and smart phone app that use a Bluetooth connection to wirelessly report to your dentist on your dental health and dental care habits.
The app tracks every brush stroke by the toothbrush. As you brush, a video simulation on your phone guides your hand, showing you where to brush and how hard.
Will it Instagram the results of your work? Let's just say not yet.
According to internet rumor, this photo shows a bootleg copy of the 2013 American movie Oldboy. The movie is a remake of a 2003 South Korean film of the same title which was a film version of a Japanese manga published in the late 1990s.
So there's been a lot of Oldboy. It was too much for Amazon.com reviewer B. McIntosh, who called it "an unnecessary sub-par remake." That was apparently high praise in the mind of this bootleg DVD manufacturer.
2 years ago, we learned that a scholarly journal of mathematics had published an article that was computer-generated gibberish without any mathematical meaning. The author--or rather, the person who used the authoring program--was trying to prove a point about how slipshod the peer-review process had become.
Now the scientific publishers Springer and IEEE have withdrawn more than 120 scientific papers from publication. Most of the papers originate in China. The publishers pulled them because a computer scientist developed a program that detects fake papers. Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France ran publication databases through his program. In the journal Nature, Richard Van Noorden describes the results:
Labbé does not know why the papers were submitted — or even if the authors were aware of them. Most of the conferences took place in China, and most of the fake papers have authors with Chinese affiliations. Labbé has emailed editors and authors named in many of the papers and related conferences but received scant replies; one editor said that he did not work as a program chair at a particular conference, even though he was named as doing so, and another author claimed his paper was submitted on purpose to test out a conference, but did not respond on follow-up.
Why do scientists engage in this practice? Because the more frequently a scientist is cited, the more prestige that author acquires. Labbé demonstrated this by creating a fake scholar and giving him enormous prestige:
In April 2010, he used SCIgen to generate 102 fake papers by a fictional author called Ike Antkare [see pdf]. Labbé showed how easy it was to add these fake papers to the Google Scholar database, boosting Ike Antkare’s h-index, a measure of published output, to 94 — at the time, making Antkare the world's 21st most highly cited scientist. Last year, researchers at the University of Granada, Spain, added to Labbé’s work, boosting their own citation scores in Google Scholar by uploading six fake papers with long lists to their own previous work2.
In 2011, this device created by Indian industrial designer Dinubhai Panchal won the Best Product Design Award in Core77's annual design competition.
Panchal designed it for laborers in his country who must often carry heavy loads in ways that cause injuries. His load carrier is simple, study and cheap. It costs just $7 to make.
The device is adjustable so that a laborer may carry light loads on the head, moderate loads on the shoulders and heavy loads on a wheeled cart. The shoulder points are padded for comfort and the handlebars are textured to make them easier to grip.
In an interview with Core77, Panchal said, "I feel proud to be an Indian who is bringing to light the need (and a design solution) of the underprivileged society, which has been observed and appreciated in many ways."
Sculptor Jean Cotton prefers the term "aesthetically challenged." That's probably a more polite phrase to use when describing her facial mugs. They're sometimes goofy and sometimes scary, but they're always in for a hard time at a beauty contest. You can find her Facebook gallery here and her Etsy shop here.
P.S. If you like Cotton's work, then you may also like the ceramic faces of The Big Duluth.
Mike Dougherty is a screenwriter who worked on Superman Returns and X-Men 2. He is also, according to his Twitter profile, a "part-time mammal." That's good--always keep a side hustle going.
He wears a lot of hats, including, now, that of a fashion designer. With a few markers, he sketched up this design for an Alien chestbuster onsie at which any parent would be proud to scream in terror. He made it at his first baby shower, which shows a promising start.
Sometimes, when you're on a culinary adventure, some naysayer may mutter, "This seems like a bad idea" or "We should turn back while we can" or "This seems dangerous." Such people would not be welcome in the kitchen of Becky McKay, the internet's Cereal Baker.
Her most recent mad cooking experiment consisted of building stacks of Girl Scout cookies: Tagalongs, Samoas and Thin Mints. She wrapped these stacks in raw canned crescent roll dough.
Once you've made something in the kitchen--anything, really--it's time to start up the deep fryer. Becky browned her concoctions for a minute or two on each side, then sprinkled them with powdered sugar.
As Master Yoda said, "Size matters not." Or perhaps it's better to say that being big is not always an advantage, even in sports.
On Tuesday, the Sacramento Kings faced off against the Houston Rockets. In a pregame event, Rockets player Dwight Howard, who stands 6 feet, 11 inches tall, took on a little boy. Howard easily blocked the child and batted away his shots at the basket.
But then, at 0:47, Howard's size suddenly presented an opportunity for his opponent.
You don't have to settle for ordinary lashes. Etsy seller Natalie Russo makes jewelry that adds flair to them. She uses tiny beads, wire and feathers to create sculptures that you can glue onto your face. I have wood glue handy, but Russo recommends something called "eyelash glue."
Some of her fancier pieces use gold and peacock feathers. Russo tells The Daily Beast that she has sold 600 sets over the past 3 years. I can see how the concept could have even broader, mass market appeal.
Happy Derpy Day, everypony! Today is Derpy Day, an annual brony holiday about Derpy Hooves--the My Little Pony character created by fans and adopted by the show.
Traditionally, bronies celebrate Derpy Day by baking muffins and giving them to people in order to share the magic of friendship. Yesterday, I told my library co-workers about Derpy Day and gave them homemade banana muffins.
Today, I'm baking muffins and drawing pictures of Derpy with my daughters. My 5-year old has expressed skepticism that Derpy Day is a legitimate holiday, but that won't stop us from having fun.
To mark the occasion, I've rounded up some of the best crafts featuring the lovable and ditzy Derpy Hooves. At the top, you can find renegadecow's masterful flying Derpy automaton.
Of all brony crafters, renegadecow is my favorite. He is a master artisan in a complex craft. Here's his other Derpy automaton. This one, as you can see, shows her dozing on a cloud.
Many bronies have made plushes. I like this one by picklz especially well because it shows Derpy in her Nightmare Night (Halloween) costume, which consisted of paper bags.
We share muffins on Derpy Day because according to brony lore, Derpy loooooves muffins. A lot. This hoodie by Lisa Lou Who shows Derpy's colors, cutie mark, wings and a muffin.
Pejac, a street artist from Spain, makes brilliant use of his urban canvases. His use of a drainage grate to show a barcode is inspired. But I'm most impressed by his map of the world draining away. It's a sad image, but it's also striking.
Sometimes in relationships, you have to do this "talking" thing--like conversations and such. That can take a lot of time and energy.
We humans rose from the dirt and squalor of the caves because we used tools. The long journey from stone axes has brought us to this: BroApp. This app available for Android phones takes all of the work out of back-and-forth texting conversations with your significant other.
Once you download BroApp, write a bunch of sweet-sounding text messages. I know--it's a chore. But you'll only have to do it once!* It sends messages periodically according to your input as well as its computations about the optimal times to send the messages.
Here's one clever feature: BroApp asks you to enter your girlfriend's WiFi network information. You don't want for the app to send a message while you're with her at her house. That would totally blow your cover. So the message queue pauses when your phone detects her wireless network.
Here’s a musical fushion that I’ve never heard before! It’s a combination of Japanese surf rock and classical western European music. Terauchi Takeshi is the musical mind responsible. He formed the eponymous Terauchi Takeshi & the Bunnys in 1966 in Yokohama. Takeshi experimented with other genres, borrowing heavily from classical music. Here’s his mix of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
You can hear more classical tracks at WFMU’s Beware of the Blog, including selections from Brahams, Schubert and Tchaikovsky.
You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of WiFi. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of cell signal. Your next stop, the Twilight Zone!
I recently ran across 2 interesting blog posts about how science fiction and fantasy often shove people into fixed categories because of species. First, Salem MacGourley wrote about why he prefers to play humans in role-playing games:
I'm really kind of a fan of humans. This translates into my gaming habits, as there's many games out there that let you pick not only male or female, but species as well. I always roll human. Sure, Dwarves might be stronger, Krogans might be more resilient, Asari might live a thousand years longer, and Elves might be bastards, but give me a human any day. Us humans, we can do anything. I can't, for the life of me, remember the source of the quote, nor can I the quote itself, but on Star Trek, probably Deep Space Nine, there was a quote about humans that's stuck with me. You take 10 Klingons, you've got 10 fierce warriors. 10 Ferengi, you've got 10 shrewd businessmen. 10 Romulans, 10 expert spies. But you take 10 humans, you don't know *what* you're dealing with. They could be anything. You can't plan for humans.
What you get is ten bigots. Because, see, humans, specifically the humans that wrote that script, look at ourselves as "people" and the other people, the ones with the pointy ears or the furry feet or the bony ridges on their foreheads, as "archetypes".
All Klingons are honor-loving warriors. All dwarves are beer-swilling Lawful Good blacksmiths with, for some reason, bad fake Scottish accents. All elves are ethereal granola-munching bunny-hugging archers. But humans are people and therefore can be good or evil, horticulturalists or mechanical engineers, priests or physicists, saints or monsters.
In Dungeons & Dragons, dwarves can't be rangers and halflings can't be magic users, but humans can be any character class. In Star Trek, the United Federation of Planets is a galaxy-spanning polyspecies polity, but the officer's mess on any Starfleet vessel looks more like a board meeting at Augusta National than it does the cantina in Star Wars. The most homogenous, conformist technological society on planet Earth has everything from tattooed yakuza to sumo wrestlers to lolita cosplayers, but you could title a documentary on Klingons Fifty Shades of Worf.
This tendency has long struck me as a weakness of Star Trek. You could have a Klingon society dominated by warriors, but only if it was a constantly expanding empire with a booty-based economy, such as Fifteenth Century Spain. Ferenginar could exist as a mercantile city-state similar to Seventeenth Century Venice. But the entire populations couldn't consist of warriors or merchants. At minimum, someone would have to build and run the machines.
Occasionally Star Trek's writers addressed the discrepancy. Nog once commented that his father Rom would have made a great engineer if only he hadn't been pressured to go into business. It just would have been nice if the series had kept going and given even more sociological depth to alien cultures that were easily stereotyped.