Blog Posts BrianE Likes

Christmas Lights for the Lazy

Homeowner TaterTotsForLunch not only does not have to put up so many lights to be fully decorated for Christmas, but he also did not think up the idea, his wife painted the Grinch, and he even waited for someone else to post the picture to reddit. So he's got the "minimal work" thing down. This is just one of a list of 19 Totally Amusing Christmas Decorations, some of which you've seen before, but also some that are fairly new, at Buzzfeed.   

Google Buys Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics, the company that develops new robots for DARPA and other military clients, has been acquired by Google. Now the biggest entity on the internet owns Atlas, Cheetah, PetMan, Big Dog, AlphaDog, WildCat, Sand Flea, RHex, and other terrifying robots.

Google confirmed on Friday that it had completed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that has designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon. The company, based in Waltham, Mass., has gained an international reputation for machines that walk with an uncanny sense of balance and even — cheetahlike — run faster than the fastest humans.

It is the eighth robotics company that Google has acquired in the last half-year. Executives at the Internet giant are circumspect about what exactly they plan to do with their robot collection. But Boston Dynamics and its animal kingdom-themed machines bring significant cachet to Google’s robotic efforts, which are being led by Andy Rubin, the Google executive who spearheaded the development of Android, the world’s most widely used smartphone software.

Obviously Google is betting on automation as the wave of the future. What more evidence do we need that the company will soon will use its many robots to take over the world? Read more at the New York Times. -via Boing Boing

(Image credit: Boston Dynamics)

A Spinning Ice Disk Forms on a River

(Video Link)

I’ve never seen anything like this! An ice disk is a rare ice formation consisting of a thin, circular sheet of ice. With a bit of water pressure or wind, it moves. In the above video, you can watch one that recently appeared in the Sheyenne River in North Dakota. It’s about 55 feet across and slowly rotates. A hydrologist described the phenomenon:

Allen Schlag, a National Weather Service hydrologist in Bismarck, and Greg Gust, a weather service meteorologist in Grand Forks, said a combination of cold, dense air last weekend and an eddy in the river likely caused the disk.

The cold, dense air — the air pressure Saturday in nearby Fargo was a record high for the city for the month of November, according to Gust — turned the river water into ice, but since the water was relatively warm it didn't happen all at once. Floating bits of ice got caught in the eddy and started to spin in a circle.

You can see photos of more ice disks at Colossal.

Meet Vinicio Riva, the Disfigured Man Embraced by Pope Francis

Photo: CNN

You've probably seen the photo of Pope Francis embracing a disfigured man, whose body has been scarred by neurofibromatosis. The photo (below), which went viral, provoked an outpouring of sympathy for the man ... and sparked the hunt to find who he is.

Photo: Claudio Peri/Nacion

CNN's Rome correspondents spent weeks trying to find and talk to him, and they've finally succeeded. Meet Vinicio Riva, the disfigured man embraced by the Pope:

"When he came close to us," [Vinicio's aunt] said, "I thought he would give me his hand. Instead he went straight to Vinicio and embraced him tightly. I thought he wouldn't give him back to me he held him so tightly. We didn't speak. We said nothing but he looked at me as if he was digging deep inside, a beautiful look that I would never have expected."

Vinicio, accustomed to stares of shock and fear, was initially confused by the pontiff's lack of hesitation. "He didn't have any fear of my illness," he said. "He embraced me without speaking ... I quivered. I felt a great warmth."

Read the rest over at CNN.

A Sailor’s Dying Wish

When EM2 Bud Cloud reconciled himself to the fact that he didn't have much longer to live, all he wanted to do was go down to the Navy shipyard and see the USS Dewey, his old ship when he was in the Navy himself, back in Hawaii in 1941. His daughter, a Marine Corps veteran, called to arrange a visit. It was much more than she expected.

After we were all out of the van directly in front of the Dewey, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries, Petty Officer Simon introduced himself and said as the ship’s Sailor of the Year he had the honor of pushing Bud’s wheelchair for the day. Unbeknownst to us, they’d decided to host Bud aboard the Dewey, not at the Dewey. And so they carried him aboard. None of us expected him to go aboard the ship. I’d told him we were going down to the base and would have the chance to meet and greet a few of the Sailors from the new Dewey. He was ecstatic. The day before, he asked every few hours if we were “still going down to visit the boys from the Dewey,” and “do they know I was on the Dewey, too?”

Once aboard, we were greeted by the CO, CDR Jake Douglas, the XO and a reinforced platoon-sized group of Sailors. To say it was overwhelming is an understatement. These men and women waited in line to introduce themselves to Bud. They shook his hand, asked for photos with him, and swapped stories. It was simply amazing.

They didn’t just talk to him, they listened.

When Cloud left, they piped him ashore. It was a day Cloud talked about for the rest of his life -which was 13 days. The Sailors of the USS Dewey were there to provide a burial with honors. Go read the whole story, but take a hankie. -via Metafilter

Delightfully Geeky Paper Quilling


Iron Man


Decepticon logo from The Transformers

Master Chief from Halo

Darth Vader from Star Wars

Alia Syed, a graphic designer and artist in San Francisco, made these quilled sculptures familiar to any geek. You can see others works, including images of Boba Fett, the Autobot logo and the Aperture Science logo.

-via Lustik

The Skeleton Horse

Sandy Cramer of Knot Just Rope tack shop has a jet black horse named Raven. Raven is very patient and stood for 2.5 hours for her Halloween paint job as a skeleton. The ten-year-old horse was first painted for Halloween last year, and was such a hit that people came from miles around to see her! Raven looks good whether she's carrying the Headless Horseman or little kids in their costumes.

The paint is acrylic and comes off so easily that it needs to be touched up before appearances. A bath and a brush will take it all off, because it stays on the surface of the fur instead of soaking to the skin like dye. Read Raven's story at Facebook, and see many more pictures of the skeleton horse in this gallery. -via Everlasting Blort

A Suspended Bicycle Roundabout over a Highway

(Photo: IPV Delft)

Bicycles are a common form of everyday transportation in the Netherlands, so it’s no surprise that this architectural delight can be found there between the cities of Eindhoven and Veldhoven. How can a large number of bicyclists cross a highway without having to stop for cars? With this suspended roundabout designed by IPV Delft.

The Hovenring, as it’s called, is a ring of bike paths about 236 feet in diameter. A central pylon holds steel cables anchoring the bridge in place. Entering and exiting the roundabout is simple and far easier than using the straight crossings that the Hovenring replaced.

-via reddit

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