May 8th, 2014
The octopus is a creature both clever and dextrous.
And I, for one, welcome our new octopod overlords.
April 7th, 2014
That looks so downright bizarre that we just have to make it happen some day. Think of the advertising potential.
March 15th, 2014
I'll confess to never having read The Princess Bride, but from what I understand the film is a generally regarded as a reasonably faithful adaptation. Which makes me wonder who thought that this was a suitable cover for the first paperback release of
S Morgenstern's William Goldman's book:
March 4th, 2014
Coffee, now with added DRM for extra flavour:
The single coffee cup craze has been rolling now for several years in both the United States and Canada, with Keurig, Tassimo, and Nespresso all battling it out to lock down the market. […] Keurig has faced the "problem" in recent years of third-party pod refills that often retail for 5-25% less than what Keurig charges. As people look to cut costs, there has also been a growing market for reusable pods that generally run anywhere from five to fifteen dollars.
Keurig's solution to this problem? In a lawsuit (pdf) filed against Keurig by TreeHouse Foods, they claim Keurig has been busy striking exclusionary agreements with suppliers and distributors to lock competing products out of the market. What's more, TreeHouse points out that Keurig is now developing a new version of their coffee maker that will incorporate the java-bean equivalent of DRM — so that only Keurig's own coffee pods can be used in it […]
March 2nd, 2014
Surely this is satire:
Break Up Riots From Within
Tiltor is a novel reward system used by businesses and law enforcement agencies around the world to undermine, diffuse, and disrupt rioting behavior.
A New Kind of Reward
Rewards are good for many types of problems.
But a reward to stop a riot? That doesn't even sound possible! How can you tell what they did? Who gets the reward? Do you have to check EVERYONE'S contribution??
Clearly a traditional reward isn't going to squash a riot. Thankfully, Tiltor has developed a new kind of reward system specifically designed for rioting conditions. [...]
February 11th, 2014
February 7th, 2014
Assuming that it's not a Photoshop job, they left the worst until last:
28. And this velvet-covered Porsche
Why would you do that to a poor, defenceless car? Why?!?
January 15th, 2014
The Time Travel Mart in Echo Park caters for travellers from all eras:
January 4th, 2014
Paper Pong is a very strange, yet oddly appealing idea – a Choose Your Own Adventure-style implementation, on paper, of a very old video game. It almost seems like cheating to play a version of the book online…
As Sarah Werner observes in her musings on the alleged "death" of the "book":
I spent a lot of time as a kid playing Pong at home, so perhaps that's why I enjoy this book so much. But I love it, too, for its ridiculousness. It's a paper replication of a video game! Why would you do that? Why write lines of code to create a game of Pong that you then remediate in paper form? I don't know that there's a good reason to do that, other than you can. And, actually, that's a decent reason, one that drives more than a few novels.
I'm a girl! No, no! I'm not a girl. I'm still not ginger. There's something else, there's something important. I'm, I'm, I'm…
December 20th, 2013
December 14th, 2013
"Masturbation for 30 years" and "Suppressed masturbation"? The ideal was to find a happy medium, presumably. Also, to try not to succumb to "Excitement as officer."1
- Whatever that was… ↩
December 9th, 2013
I could have sworn that today's date wasn't April 1st, but Nicholas Carr seems determined to prove me wrong:
If there's one product category ripe for disruptive innovation, it's lingerie. So it comes as no real surprise that Microsoft researchers have developed a smart bra. The self-quantifying garment is designed, write the researchers, to "perform emotion detection in a mobile, wearable system" as a means of triggering "just-in-time interventions to support behavior modification for emotional eating." [...]
- Potentially NSFW. ↩
Olivia and her friends weren't wrong when they thought she'd become suddenly famous. Her audience just wasn't human.
November 26th, 2013
Shantal Roddam (@Allieqtzm) was a typical example of one of her new followers. Shantal was a "Friendly beer fan" from Butte. She was following:
@ESPN, the world's leading sports brand;
@MarsPhoenix, a long-dead robot on Mars;
@ReutersScience, the news organization;
@KingJames, Lebron James, the NBA star;
@AlexisMadrigal, your faithful correspondent;
and Olivia, a high school student in San Diego.
By 8:25pm, Olivia could announce, "I have hit 3,000 everyone 3,000 porn stars."
Alexis Madrigal's article trying to answer the question Why Did 9,000 Porny Spambots Descend on This San Diego High Schooler? serves as both an introduction for non-techies to the world of Twitter spambots and a reminder of the extent to which the language and practices of social media would be unintelligible to an average reader from twenty years ago.
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.
November 11th, 2013
This video of a Piper Super Cub landing on a windy mountain top is marvelous.
Even when you know what's about to happen, you're watching the film and thinking "OK, in a minute he's going to bank sharply and the runway will swing into the camera's field of vision and this'll be relatively straightforward." Then the pilot banks sharply and puts the aeroplane down on a rough piece of land clinging to the side of the mountain. One where he's going uphill!
After which he goes out, takes a few pictures, observes that it's really cold, and takes off with just as little fuss. Great stuff.
October 23rd, 2013
When I read last year about Australian billionaire Clive Palmer's plans to build a new Titanic, I somehow failed to note the biggest hostage to fortune of all:
The Titanic II will also sail the seas for real, with a spokesman for Palmer's Blue Star Line promising that "It will be the most safe cruise ship in the world when it launches." How can Palmer be sure? "Of course it will sink if you put a hole in it, but it's not going to be designed with a hole in," he's said. "It's going to be designed so it won't sink and it'll be designed as a modern ship with all the latest technology to ensure that that doesn't happen." Period costumes will also be provided to help set the mood for passengers.
The reason this story has resurfaced is that Palmer has announced plans to make a feature film to coincide with the ship's 2016 launch:
"In the third quarter of next year, we'll announce broader details about the new movie – a director, stars," he told the Sunshine Coast Daily. "It will be about Titanic II's first voyage. It will be a bit of a love story, so bring a hankie along. It's going to be bigger than the first Titanic from James Cameron. It's going to bring people together from China, Europe, the U.S. and Australia. It's going to bring about more peaceful co-operation and concentrate on what brings us together rather than what divides us."
How amazing would it be if the director could persuade Kate Winslet to star. At least this time she wouldn't have to spend weeks up to her neck in a giant water tank being shouted at by Jim Cameron.
October 16th, 2013
Headline of the Week/Month/Year candidate, courtesy of Popular Science:
October 7th, 2013
The order had come from the Dean of Dresden campus herself. In an effort to maximize classroom time (and justify expenditure budgets), lecture times would now be accurate to the second. IT would be responsible for the deployment of new, centrally synchronized clocks. [...]
Sometimes a high tech solution requires some distinctly low tech support.
September 17th, 2013
Notes from scholar and social critic W W Crotch, written in 1933 for the New Statesman, on his occasional encounters over the preceding decade or so with the new German chancellor. No huge surprises as regards what a misfit Hitler was before he ascended to the national stage, but I couldn't help but boggle at this tale of what might just be the most woefully inadequate headline of the 20th century:
One thing that struck me about Hitler was his extreme abstemiousness. He ate every night a dish of vegetables, and mineral water was his only drink. He never smoked. This reminds me of an amusing incident when Hitler became Chancellor. The German vegetarians have a central organ of their league, and this paper came out with flaming headlines:
FIRST GREAT VICTORY OF GERMAN VEGETARIANS. HITLER BECOMES CHANCELLOR.