Alan Bennett's (un-)steaming pile of manure

December 29th, 2014

A lovely piece from Alan Bennett's 2014 diary, on popping round to the set of the film version of The Lady in the Van:

27 October. Late going round to the unit this morning to find them about to film the scene when manure was being delivered to No. 23 whereupon Miss S. came hurrying over to complain about the stench and to ask me to put a notice up to tell passers-by that the smell was from the manure not her.

Having done one take we are about to go again when it occurs to me that the manure, if fresh, would probably be steaming, as I seem to recall it doing at the time. While this is generally agreed, no one can think of a way of making the (rather straw-orientated) manure we are using steam convincingly. Dry ice won't do it and kettles of hot water prove too laborious. So in the end we go with it unsteaming, the net result of my intervention being that whereas previously everybody was happy with the shot now thanks to me it doesn't seem quite satisfactory.

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Low-flying aircraft should be very careful indeed

December 27th, 2014

You want a firework. This is a firework!

[Via MetaFilter]

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Craptastic Ladies bathroom art

December 27th, 2014

Holy crap!

(Yes, I'm pretty sure that's meant to be the United Nations HQ in New York.)

[Via @feelinglistless]

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Negligence and ingratitude

December 25th, 2014

A Tale of Momentum & Inertia.

[Via io9, via Extenuating Circumstances]

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Earth timelapses

December 25th, 2014

Alexander Gerst's Earth timelapses video is mesmerising. Watch it in full-screen mode on the biggest display you have: you won't regret it.

It's a beautiful video and well worth a look, but I did have just one small quibble when I first saw it…

Early in the video, I found myself getting frustrated that more than once we saw crew or supply vessels attached to the docking arm, with the arm moving to line them up to dock or undock. The thing was, each time the image would cut away to a different view before the capsule docked/undocked. Somehow it just didn't feel right to not get to see the full sequence. In fairness, I suppose the teasing build-up made it that much more gratifying towards the end when we finally got a shot of the docking arm moving a capsule into position and this time we stuck around long enough to see the capsule undock and move away from the ISS on the way back to Earth.

What I can't decide is whether Gerst was just being a savvy editor, deliberately including truncated docking sequences so as to build anticipation for the later full sequence? Or was I just being weird to have got so fixated on the docking sequences, whilst every other viewer would have been enjoying the gorgeous images of aurorae seen from above and nighttime lightning storms illuminating the land below them and clouds and cityscapes and so on?1

[Via MetaFilter]

  1. On second thoughts, don't answer that! I have a feeling that I know the answer.

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Tab Snooze

December 22nd, 2014

Tab Snooze is for Google Chrome only at the moment: I'll be very interested to see the Safari version.

Tabs are like ToDos in the browser.

Stop staring at tabs you can't deal with now. Tab Snooze lets you put off tabs until later and returns them to your browser automatically, so you can focus on what's important now.

Tab Snooze for Chrome

[Via One Thing Well]

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Dada Data

December 21st, 2014

The Internet of Paternalistic Things:

My stupid refrigerator thinks I'm pregnant.

I reached for my favorite IPA, but the refrigerator wouldn't let me take one from the biometrically authenticated alcohol bin. […]

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W.T.F?

December 17th, 2014

W.T.F?

(Sorry, I can't remember who pointed me towards this a few days ago.)

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We wanted LEGOs to appeal to girls more…

December 17th, 2014

"You just need to add one piece."

[Via Marco.org]

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Useless toilet paper machine

December 14th, 2014

This Useless toilet paper machine is, there's no denying it, pretty useless. And very funny.

[Via MetaFilter]

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Here's hoping the happy couple were planning to move in to his place

December 14th, 2014

As an unfortunate sequel to yesterday's post about measuring one's heartbeat while proposing, today brings this story from Holland:

A Dutchman's attempt at a romantic wedding proposal was simply smashing.

The unidentified lover in the central town of Ijsselstein rented a crane, planning to descend in front of his girlfriend's bedroom window first thing Saturday morning, play her a song and then pop the question. […]

I'd imagine the poor guy's heart rate went higher and stayed that way for longer compared to the guy from yesterday's post.

[Via More Words, Deeper Hole]

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The Quantified Proposal

December 13th, 2014

Reddit user sesipikai recorded his heartbeat whilst proposing marriage:

Heartbeat during proposal (excerpt)
(This is just an excerpt: click on the image above to go and see the whole thing.)

The associated Reddit comment thread can be found here.

[Via Flowing Data]

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Fury Road

December 10th, 2014

As a rule I'm not a fan of film sequels appearing decades after the previous instalment, even when helmed by the same director as the originals. A flashy trailer can be deeply misleading. Bringing in a new lead actor in to play the hero can work, but it's a crapshoot. There are lots of reasons to be sceptical of George Miller's forthcoming addition to the Mad Max series.

But then there's this:

If the finished product is even 30% as much fun as that trailer makes it look then we're in for a treat.

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Blackout City

December 7th, 2014

Blackout City by Nicholas Buer:

In a metropolis like London light pollution makes the night sky invisible. Only a few of the brightest stars and asterisms force their celestial light through the man made glow of the city. The night sky, one of the most beautiful of natural wonders is extinguished from view. Blackout City is an experimental timelapse film that makes the invisible, visible. It attempts to show what the night sky would look like If there were ever to be a total blackout in the South East of England on a clear, moonless, summer's night.

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The Real Amazon Store

December 4th, 2014

John Herrmann's piece on how Amazon are gradually moving into making more and more – very carefully selected – categories of stuff is really good. But also deeply scary if you're a rival retailer with profit margins being bolstered by your sales of some of your less glamorous product lines:

Taken together, these products adhere to no particular aesthetic or theme – a house filled only with Amazon-brand products would look and feel like prefab model home. Again, since this is Amazon, the explanation is probably data. Not data about what people want, exactly, but data that suits Amazon's goals: these must be relatively popular and relatively expensive product categories where brand loyalty isn't too strong, and where Amazon can find cheap manufacturing partners. It's a logistics partner looking at its suppliers and saying, dozens of times, "how hard could that be?"

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A bunch of people getting hurt, instead of a bunch of people flailing around.

December 4th, 2014

Tony Zhou's latest instalment of Every Frame A Painting is Jackie Chan – How to Do Action Comedy, featuring a positively awe-inspiring collection of action sequences. The best of them are lit and shot so that you can clearly follow what's happening every step of the way and feel every blow. Which shouldn't be remarkable attributes of a fight scene, but apparently are these days.

It's unfair to highlight a favourite bit, but I must say I was very taken with a brief scene1 from a film I'm unfamiliar with called Miracles – Mr. Canton and Lady Rose featuring a spiral staircase. Also, the various sequences from the Police Story films. And … oh, just go and watch it.

  1. Starting at the 2:08 mark.

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Wanderers

November 30th, 2014

Wanderers, or, Life in the Solar System. Someday.1

[Via Sidelights]

  1. Not soon.

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'Bad Neil Gaiman' stories

November 30th, 2014

Neil Gaiman Reads "Bad Neil Gaiman" Stories. Be sure to stick around for the last story (which Gaiman declares to be his favourite.)

[Via The Millions]

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It looks awfully cramped back there in Economy Class

November 29th, 2014

Kieran Healy is proud to bring the world Air Gini:

I found myself wondering what a plane with seating laid out on the basis of the U.S. income distribution would look like. So, following Beth's lead, I decided to get into the aviation business and launch Air Gini, America's most American airline.

I appreciate that this isn't the point of Healy's thought experiment, but I can't help but imagine that those eight passengers he's allocated seats in First Class wouldn't dream of setting foot on a regular commercial flight when they could fly in their own private jet.

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The brains of the trainee interpreters had changed […] but not in the way you might expect

November 26th, 2014

In other words: inside the lives and minds of real-time translators

Looking down over the delegates at the IMO, I was reminded of the view from a captain's bridge, or the gallery of a television studio. I had a feeling of control, a perverse reaction given that control is one thing interpreters lack. The words they utter and the speed at which they talk are determined by others. And even though [on-duty translators] Pinkney and Soliño had copies of some of the speeches that had been prepared for that morning, they had to be alive to humorous asides. Puns, sarcasm, irony and culture-specific jokes are an interpreter's nightmare. As one interpreter has noted in an academic article, "Puns based on a single word with multiple meanings in the source language should generally not be attempted by interpreters, as the result will probably not be funny." Quite.

Go for the amusing anecdotes about mistranslations, stay for a fascinating look at how the hell the human brain copes with listening to one language and speaking another in real time.

[Via MetaFilter]

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