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Best Posts for August 2006

August 31, 2006
After the Romans left Britain was divided into a number of Celtic kingdoms that fought with each other and, increasingly, with the Germanic invaders we know as "Anglo-Saxons." The most famous alleged defender of Celtic Britain, of course, is King Arthur, but he's more myth than history. What catches my imagination is The Gododdin (Welsh original, by Aneurin), an epic lament for the band of men who gathered at Eiddyn (Edinburgh, main town of Gododdin) around the year 600 and headed south for a last-ditch battle against the Saxons at Catraeth (probably Catterick in northern Yorkshire), where they were wiped out. One contingent was from Elmet (Elfed in the poem), a kingdom that had been holding the line against the invaders in what's now Yorkshire; once Elmet was conquered, there was no stopping them. And all of this history was basic to the poetry of David Jones, one of the best unknown poets of the previous century, and important to one of the best known, Ted Hughes (book with photos). "Men went to Catraeth, familiar with laughter. The old, the young, the strong, the weak."
posted by languagehat at 3:28 PM PST - 31 comments winner

Frank Lloyd Wright in Half Life 2 a machima walkthrough of the Falling Water / Kaufmann House. (youtube) (higher res version - 57mb) (slightly more information)
posted by crunchland at 2:55 PM PST - 37 comments runner-up

The Nedelin disaster remains the most fatal catastrophe in the history of rocketry. On October 26, 1960 an R-16 ICBM designed by Mikhail Yangel accidentally ignited killing over 100 within moments. The incident remained in strict secrecy for thirty years until it was unearthed by James Oberg. The true casualty rate remains a mystery and Kazakhstan still sees more than its fair share of rocket mishaps.
posted by Alison at 10:53 AM PST - 16 comments runner-up

August 30, 2006
Historical anatomy models were a marriage of art and science. From about the 13th to the 19th centuries, exquisite wax models were the state of the art. Florence's La Specola anatomical wax museum houses the works of master artists, such as Ercole Lelli, Anna Morandi, and Clemente Susini. The later years of wax models tended towards the grotesque: moulage and depictions of pathological conditions and physical anomalies. Due to the labor required and delicacy of wax models, papier-mâché became the favored production method in the 19th century, partly due to the ability to dissect the models. Over time, models became more stylized to protect the delicate sensibilities of the public. Today, models are again shocking the public with extreme realism.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:56 PM PST - 18 comments runner-up

Cathrine Chalmers creates photographs that explore our uneasy relationship with nature. Caterpillars devour a tomato. A praying mantis snacks upon one of those juicy worms, and then becomes a meal for a self-contented frog. Of course, praying mantises have their own curious cycle of life. Cockroaches masquerade as their more aesthetically pleasing cousins, or are sent to their deaths in grim mockeries of criminal executions. Short interview here. Not for the squeamish.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:30 PM PST - 8 comments runner-up

That's Punksploitation!! Can punk rock episodes of old TV shows kill? Check out punk episodes from Quincy, CHiPs (Part 1 and Part 2), 21 Jump Street (Part 1 and Part 2), as well as the appearance of the Dickies on the Don Rickles sitcom, CPO Sharkey. Other prime vintage examples of media cluelessness on punk rock include a fashion show and a scaremongering Time magazine article, although a recent cookie commercial may revive the punksploitation genre.
posted by jonp72 at 1:35 PM PST - 55 comments winner

August 29, 2006
Inspired by a convention in 1999, First Day covers, and his grandfather's autograph collection, Jeremy Adolphson sends off 4x6 index cards to various artists with return postage, hoping for a doodle. 5 years on, he has sixty-five galleries (some NSFW) worth of art to share.
posted by divabat at 10:10 PM PST - 9 comments runner-up

If you love gourds but can't stand their gourdly shapes, then Dan Ladd is the artist for you. By snatching young gourds from their parents & stuffing them into unyielding molds, Dan ends up with remarkable natural shapes, organically grown sculptures that bear amazing details.
posted by jonson at 3:44 PM PST - 27 comments runner-up

1,100 Apple II games you can play online. If you are too overwhelmed by your memories to know what to play, some playable classics: Oregon Trail*, Ultima IV*, Archon*, Captain Goodnight and the Islands of Fear*, Drol*, Wings of Fury*, Choplifter *, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?* and Taipan*. Or you can play the first game mod in history: Castle Smurfenstein, a modification of the 1983 original Castle Wolfenstein. What did I miss? [Young whippersnappers can click the asterisks to find out why the game was important. Use the left and right alt keys for joystick buttons, the other instructions are on the site. Emulator only works with IE, sorry. See also this.]
posted by blahblahblah at 12:17 PM PST - 98 comments winner

August 28, 2006
Amazing photoseries of 70 foot storm waves crushing the surface of a large tanker in the North Pacific. More on the post-storm damage here.
posted by jonson at 3:40 PM PST - 36 comments winner

Transcriptions of every opening credit sequence answering machine message from all six seasons of the Rockford Files.
posted by sourwookie at 7:08 AM PST - 23 comments runner-up

Eject! Eject! Eject! Whether used in the air, on land, at sea (and under it), or on the way to the Moon, ejection seats and capsules have saved thousands of aviators worldwide. The basic concept was first tested in 1912, developed by the Germans in WWII, and became standard safety equipment in high-speed, high-altitude jet and rocket aircraft. (Although ejection seats were in Gemini spacecraft, they were only in early Space Shuttle flights.) Much happens very quickly during ejection, and harrowing accidents and pilot deaths still occur. The decision not to eject right away may be heroic, but even pilots who wait may live while innocent bystanders^ die. However, the efforts of dedicated researchers and rocket sled testing by seat manufacturers keep adding new members to the unique club of men and women who survive to fly again.
posted by cenoxo at 12:45 AM PST - 21 comments runner-up

August 27, 2006
Medical maggots are available only by prescription in the US and the UK. Eclipsed by the discovery of penicillin, maggots now may turn out to be effective when anitbiotics stop working. Although the FDA hasn't yet decided exactly how to classify maggots, they are generally considered to be medical devices. The BTER Foundation (BioTherapeutics Education and Research) offers maggot therapy workshops, but no special certification is currently required to use them. As beneficial as they are, their use is not always indicated. And when they showed up on their own in a subacute care facility in Chicago, the patient sued for "at least $50,000".
posted by owhydididoit at 9:30 PM PST - 10 comments runner-up

One of the most famous characters on youtube is lonelygirl15 (this link being the most comprehensive summary of her story I've seen). Virginia Hefferton of the NY Times is one of the countless people trying to unravel the mystery of whether her video blogs are the ramblings of a cute homeschooled girl and her nerdy crush, or part of a larger marketing campaign.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:20 PM PST - 90 comments runner-up

That's the Sound of the Man Working on the Chain Gang Among all genres of American folk music, prison songs may be the most viscerally compelling. They evolved from plantation songs and field hollers of slaves in the American South before the civil war (whose origins can in turn be traced to patterns found in the music of West Africa) but their tone and content is quite different. Limitless in length, bitter and pained, offering little hope of freedom or redemption, these songs were first heard during Reconstruction. Harsh and unevenly enforced laws incarcerated legions of black American men, consigning them to long sentences of labor for minor offenses like insult, fistfighting, and shoplifting. To shore up a tanking Southern economy, prisons leased convict labor to plantation owners as a low-cost replacement for slave labor. When reform efforts brought that to an end, state governments became the contractors. Sweetheart deals awarded lucrative contracts to prisons to provide labor for rebuilding the railroads and highways of the war-destroyed South. Slavery in all but name, these work conditions gave rise to a body of music that is one of the most significant antecedents of the blues. In hundreds of variants, cadenced to axe-fall, hoe stroke, or the drop of a maul, the songs set a working pace a man could sustain from dawn to dusk, while remaining fast enough to satisfy an armed 'Captain' on horseback.
posted by Miko at 11:21 AM PST - 33 comments winner

August 26, 2006
The Bushi-Nenge of French Guiana and Surinam (Bush Negroes or Maroons) are a unique, and little-known group of peoples (Boni or Aluku, Saramaca, Ndyuka) who escaped from Dutch plantations in the early 1700's, who battled for independence which was recognized through various treaties -- notably by the Treaty of Albina which France and the Netherlands signed in 1860 (I can't find any info on the net), and who still live an African-type life largely based around the Maroni River between French Guiana and Suriname, as citizens of either one country or the other. Their language is Sranan Tongo (a mixture of African Languages, English, Dutch, Portuguese and Hebrew -- also known as Taki-Taki -- click for a listen). Historical and scholarly works are scarce, but they exist (In English but mostly in Dutch or French). Some pictures of typical houses. Symbolic Woodwork. More art. Images of the people of French Guyana. Images of various canoes in French Guiana. More photos of the Maroni River. Amazonie Francaise.
posted by pwedza at 9:16 PM PST - 11 comments winner

Cane Hill^ is an abandoned state run lunatic asylum (link contains tons of photographs) in South London. Built in 1882, the hospital for years housed Charlie Chaplin's mother (before he became wealthy enough to rescue her). Shuttered since 1990, the locations' inherent creepiness continues to fascinate urban explorers. Inside Out has a series of interesting pieces on the location, including music & paintings inspired by Cane Hill, an essay on the location, detailed floorplans and further photographs.
posted by jonson at 2:44 PM PST - 20 comments runner-up

Scientists in Mongolia have found the mummy of a Scythian warrior. This article about the find contains an excellent photo gallery of what exactly they dug up. Other things people have dug up in the past include the famous Mr. Ötzi (only twice as old as the others) and Ms. Altai Princess, who has lately been causing some trouble.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:58 AM PST - 13 comments runner-up

August 25, 2006
For murder ballads, here's your Mississippi John Hurt's Louis Collins and your Grayson & Whitter's Ommie Wise. Then, for some early white blues bottleneck guitar, here's your Frank Hutchison's K. C. Blues. Not to mention Charley Patton's Screamin' And Hollerin' The Blues. All courtesy the Internet Archives 78 RPM tag. where there is way more--like Bix Beiderbecke's first record, Davenport Blues, Louis Armstrong's Ain't Misbehavin' and Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words, among many others. Then, for more, Nugrape Records has an mp3 page. The standout there, at least for me, is Gus Cannon's Poor Boy Long Ways From Home. As for their namesake, the Nugrape Twins, well, the Archive has the mp3 of I've Got Your Ice Cold Nugrape. And don't let me omit mentioning PublicDomain4U. They have Mississippi John Hurt's Frankie, for one. Tyrone's Record and Phonograph Links will lead you to more 78 RPM goodness. And don't forget the inestimable and erudite vacapinta first directed us to Dismuke's Virtual Talking Machine.
posted by y2karl at 2:20 PM PST - 48 comments winner

I promise to try not to smoke, or drink too much, or eat too much, or be lazy. If I fail, you can cut my benefits. Sign here please. West Virginia recently approved a controversial change to its Medicaid program: a Member Agreement [NB: links to .pdf] that adds several "personal responsibilities" including attempting to avoid smoking, (illegal) drugs, heavy drinking and sloth (not sloths). It also includes clauses on compliance with doctors recommendations, keeping appointments, reading the written materials that doctors provide, and minimizing emergency department visits. Patients who don't uphold their end of the bargain will have some benefits reduced or eliminated (that'll learn them). Lube up the slippery slope arguments. Will it work? Is it fair? Want to hear more? And more (from NPR)?.
(Article .pdfs archived here and here. Interview .mp3 archived here if you can't access them through above links).
posted by scblackman at 8:41 AM PST - 87 comments runner-up

Helen Kane. (Wikipedia bio.) They based Betty Boop on her. MP3 files. WAV files. Podcast.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:55 AM PST - 11 comments runner-up

August 24, 2006
Long .pdf paper on the state of mainstream "analytic" philosophy. In a recent thread, we discussed the current state of philosophy departments in English-speaking countries. Philosophers are often asked why we don't take Ayn Rand seriously as a philosopher, or why we aren't up on literary Theory or deconstruction, etc. The short answer is that most academic philosophers in universities in the English-speaking world are engaged in a broad consensus (about how to do philosophy, what counts as a good question, etc) that's called "analytic philosophy" for short. Here is a long, informative encyclopedia entry by Scott Soames describing the history and current state of play in analytic philosophy. If you want to understand the background of the currently dominant school of philosophy in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, this will explain it. Link goes directly to a 44-page .pdf file.

Here are a few bonus bits: Jerry Fodor on Why no one reads analytic philosophy. One of the Philosophy talk podcasts from the Stanford philosophy department, on The Future of Philosophy. Some answers at askphilosophers.org -- a site where you can ask questions directly of professional philosophers -- that say the distinction between analytic and continental philosophy should be retired. (In a way, I agree, but the terms are used so widely that it's useful to get a sense of what they're meant to describe.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on what different philosophers have meant by "analysis".
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:33 PM PST - 56 comments winner

There goes the afternoon... Board Dots is an annoyingly simple flash game. Just cover each space on the board with your dot. It's not as easy as it looks.
posted by salmacis at 5:58 AM PST - 17 comments runner-up

Playing cards and tarot cards. An amazing resource about cards with hundreds of scanned decks, and an illustrated timeline of cards through the ages. Cards started in China, but the link to the West was the gorgeous decks of the Marmeluks [Coral cache],which used 52 cards (though the suites were polo sticks, coins, swords, and cups), from there, they spread to Europe and evolved into the tarot and playing cards. Through their history, cards remained art there are many beautiful decks in the past, and 20th century artists like Dali and Hockney created their own decks [coral cache].
posted by blahblahblah at 12:31 AM PST - 14 comments runner-up

August 23, 2006
Free Your Imagination : from the furry "Yeti crab" to the almiqui, animals discovered and rediscovered this millenium.
posted by anjamu at 7:30 PM PST - 17 comments runner-up

Friz-Freleng-For-All About thirty blogs paid tribute this past Monday to the renowned animator, keeper of pigs, tweety-bird-hungry cats and panthers, and model for the roughest, toughest hombre that ever locked horns with a rabbit. Happy 100th birthday, Friz!
posted by LinusMines at 7:27 PM PST - 5 comments runner-up

Wally Wood's 22 Comics Panels That Always Work.
posted by empath at 12:53 PM PST - 34 comments winner

August 22, 2006
Nancy , the best comic strip ever? Close but no cigar. Pogo? Peanuts? Calvin? Good choices all, but still wrong. Krazy Kat you say? Again I shake my head sadly, friend. For Mr. Dave Astor has finally stepped forward to settle this debate once and for all. The greatest comic strip ever appearing on newsprint? Why, it's For Better or For Worse of course. Let the debate begin.
posted by ktoad at 3:02 PM PST - 202 comments winner

Dirty Car Art
posted by mattbucher at 11:57 AM PST - 28 comments runner-up

Red-Hot and Filthy Library Smut. Scanned photos of the insides of some of the world's hottest, youngest and dirtiest libraries. Some of the best from the book by Candida Hofer.
posted by geoff. at 7:50 AM PST - 40 comments runner-up

August 21, 2006
The Afghan Elvis (with YouTube clip), the Soviet Elvis (played by Tom Hanks), the French Elvis (now seeking Belgian citizenship), the Mexican Elvis, the Swedish Elvis, the Filipino Elvis, the Chinese Elvis, the Sikh Elvis, the Japanese Elvis who became a Prime Minister, and other foreign Elvii.
posted by jonp72 at 3:24 PM PST - 20 comments runner-up

People don't write manifestos like they used to... Whatever happened to the Surrealist Manifesto? How about the the Italian Futurist Manifesto (and its many spinoffs)? There's also First and Second OuLiPo Manifestos, Humanist (I, II, & III) as well as Post-Humanist Manifestos, not to mention Donna Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto: "...an ironic political myth faithful to feminism, socialism, and materialism...."
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:10 PM PST - 43 comments runner-up

In the 1930's, Henry Ford transplanted a tiny piece of America—complete with picket fences, fire hydrants, poetry readings, square-dancing, and English-language sing-alongs—into the Amazon rain forest. Fordlândia was to be the largest rubber tree plantation on the planet (over 70 million rubber tree seedlings) providing material for the millions of tires Ford Motor Company needed. It flopped. So he tried again, downriver a bit, with Belterra. It flopped, too. By 1945, Ford threw in the towel having lost over $20 million, or roughly $200 million in modern dollars.
posted by CodeBaloo at 5:38 AM PST - 10 comments winner

August 20, 2006
The Smithsonian Photography Initiative provides access to "1,800 digital images, the work of 100 photographers, who used 50 different processes." It's the first online batch of the Smithsonian's 13 million photographs. (More info here and here). The Enter the Frame feature lets you save your own photo sequences.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:40 PM PST - 4 comments runner-up

Google mislays Tibet. Tech news site The Register uses Google Earth to do a virtual flyover of Tibet Tibet Autonomous Region. They see lots of neat stuff, including railways, bridges, and the (former) Northwest Nuclear Weapons Research & Design Academy. Among other things.
posted by Drunken_munky at 12:56 PM PST - 23 comments winner

Lonely? Online? Unwilling to fuck people that aren't exactly like you? Good news! The PeopleMeet Empire has a dating website custom designed specifically to fit your needs, whether you're Italian, Jewish, Divorced, Marriage Minded, Asian (nonspecific), Asian (specific), Old, Really Old, Christian (Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentacostal, Born Again, Mormon or Other), Republican, Democrat, Midget, Fit, Fat, the Outdoor type, the Indoor type, a Pet lover, Professional, some kooky Black variation of the earlier types, or even (gasp!) Californian.
posted by jonson at 12:12 AM PST - 64 comments runner-up

August 19, 2006
In the early 1900's, Sicilian immigrant Baldasare Forestiere moved from New York the San Joaquin valley, California. Working alone during his spare time and using only hand tools, he spent 40 years sculpting an underground home and garden [Real] that's a work of art and architectural engineering known today as the Forestiere Underground Gardens. [Gimages]
posted by CodeBaloo at 5:36 PM PST - 11 comments winner

Serious Horsepower. Some beautiful machines pulling more than just dead weight .
posted by rmmcclay at 9:20 AM PST - 33 comments runner-up

"Inthewrongplaceness" is a live art installation whereupon a naked woman cradles a dead pig.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 9:06 AM PST - 49 comments runner-up

August 18, 2006
200 liters of condensed liquid nitrogen (LN2) were delivered to Berkeley’s Condensed Matter Lab this past Monday. Sent to retrieve the 400lb dewar from the loading dock but faced with a non-working elevator, an enterprising young lab student decided to carry it down the stairs. Gravity is a harsh mistress.

If things had turned out differently, they could have been scraping his remains off the walls with a spatula. At Texas A&M in January a lab was badly damaged when someone ignored the Ideal Gas Law, removed the pressure valve and rupture disk off an old (LN2) tank and filled the remaining holes with metal plugs. "How to Tell a True Lab Story" talks about a similar incident. LN2 is good for more than just blowing up a school (or, um a watermelon), though: Spanish Chef Ferran Adrià uses it to create dishes at his restaurant. Previously on MeFI: How to make LN2 ice cream (careful!) and unwise science experiments.
posted by zarq at 9:20 AM PST - 27 comments runner-up

"Sometimes our stomachs would hurt, because we would go up to 15 days without eating." Three Mexican fisherman were found alive after drifting in the Pacific for nearly a year. They were found in their 27-foot boat, 5500 miles from where they started.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:42 AM PST - 56 comments runner-up

Anna and Laura Tirocchi ran a dressmaking shop for the elite of Providence, Rhode Island between 1915 and 1947. In 1989 the building, which had been shut for 42 years, was found to contain a time capsule of the development of early 20th century fashion - from fabric and dresses to photographs and sewing machines and associated ephemera. The A&L Tirocchi Dressmakers Project website showcases the collection (after 12 years of research by RISD) through: the 514 project (with an image archive), essays, databases and exhibition sections. [via Intute]
posted by peacay at 4:04 AM PST - 12 comments winner

August 17, 2006
Strangers - a visual record of one-night stands that never actually happened. Futoshi Miyagi in a series of photos of himself in the homes of other men. "To be naked with someone without having intercourse is weird." [Flash, nsfw]
posted by mediareport at 11:16 PM PST - 14 comments runner-up

Indexed: life lessons in chart and graph form.
posted by hydrophonic at 12:03 PM PST - 21 comments winner

Casper the Friendly Ghost video One of the oddest animated characters still popular since the 1940's, Casper the Emotionally Needy Dead Boy continues to elicit uneasiness and distress in viewers. On the other hand, his catchy theme song* has inspired some*. *warning: sound
posted by maryh at 12:01 AM PST - 39 comments runner-up

August 16, 2006
Dancing droplets begets Water figures. The full set.
posted by tellurian at 10:16 PM PST - 8 comments runner-up

Artist trading cards (ATC's) have three rules they shouldn't be sold, they are to measure exactly 2.5" by 3.5", and on the back they must have the artist's name, contact information, title of the ATC and it's number in the series. Since M. Vanci Stirnemann started this hobby in 1997 it has spread the world over. [previously on metafilter]
posted by bigmusic at 11:12 AM PST - 13 comments winner

Ceres, Charon, and 2003 UB313 (a.k.a. Xena) may join the 9 planets we already know (and strive to remember) if a resolution by the International Astronomical Union is passed next week. So what makes a planet, according to the IAU? Having sufficient mass to achieve hydrostatic equilibrium (i.e. be round enough...welcome former asteroid Ceres) and being in orbit around a star without being a star itself or a satellite of another planet (apparently Charon and Pluto are actually a double planet.) Mike Brown, discoverer of "10th planet" Sedna and alleged "Pluto-hater", doesn't really like the idea.
posted by nekton at 6:58 AM PST - 75 comments runner-up

August 15, 2006
Auroras have had many explanations throughout history. Now, science has answered many questions, thanks to spending a lot of time in Antarctica taking time-lapse films.
posted by MetaMonkey at 6:57 PM PST - 14 comments winner

When Library and Archives Canada placed online images of the 1901, 1906 and 1911 census, Automated Genealogy provided opportunity for volunteers to transcribe names into a database. Now the two early documents (1901, 1906) and most of the 1911 are fully indexed and searchable with links to the original image pages. Further projects are underway to link names between the documents and to other online sources, such as The Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance and the British Home Children.
posted by TimTypeZed at 1:22 PM PST - 8 comments runner-up

Ernest and Bertram --short film, formerly one of the best films you can't see after debuting at Sundance in 2002, with Sesame's lawyers then cracking down and forcing it to be pulled--now on youtube.
posted by amberglow at 6:49 AM PST - 27 comments runner-up

August 14, 2006
Temari have been a hand-crafted tradition for centuries in China and Japan. Also known as kishu-temari, edo-temari, etc., these intricate woven balls were originally toys for children and later became gifts symbolizing friendship and loyalty. Though they used to be constructed from scraps of old kimonos, over the years they have evolved into elaborate geometric designs using silk as well as other, less expensive materials. People outside Japan have been making their own recently and a homemade temari makes a beautiful gift indeed.
posted by ktoad at 3:02 PM PST - 11 comments runner-up

We’ve detected background radiation from the Big Bang. We’ve sent explorers to the bottom of the ocean and the moon above us. We have images of the individual atoms of which our world is made. But we cannot have direct access to the sensory experiences of another human being. Language can help to bridge the gap but it is an imperfect tool. The closest we have come is Brain Fingerprinting and even that only indicates recognition of a scene or object; it does not capture the actual visual memory of the scene or object. This may soon change. Several years ago, researchers at Berkeley wired a cat’s neurons to a computer and were able to obtain videos of what the cat was seeing.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:51 AM PST - 50 comments winner

Too Wong Foo: There's Mixed-Up Surf Nazis Invading A Plane! In honor of Snakes On A Plane slithering into theaters this coming weekend, Boston.com offers eleven perfectly descriptive, or overly cryptic, but all memorable movie titles. How would you retitle your favorite movie to be as descriptive as Snakes On A Plane? For example, The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down?
posted by Lord Kinbote at 7:10 AM PST - 119 comments runner-up

August 13, 2006
The Evolution of the Desktop 1984-2007
My oh my, how far we've come.
posted by fenriq at 7:01 PM PST - 61 comments runner-up

3000 feet up in the mountains of Eastern Myanmar (Burma) lies Inle Lake^, a giant freshwater lake that is populated by 70,000 people living in four separate cities on top of the lake. They dwell, fish, farm, worship and celebrate upon the surface of Lake Inle, living a unique lifestyle that seems wholly unto itself, untouched by the world outside. All pictures found using the amazing FlickrStorm tool.
posted by jonson at 12:07 PM PST - 25 comments runner-up

Moomins! The Moomins, created in 1945 by artist and writer Tove Jansson in this story, went on to become a series of books beloved by children in the 60s and 70s and then a British TV show in the early 80s. The Moomins’ fame is so all pervading in Finland that they have their own amusement park and museum but they somehow have never gained as much of a foothold in the US. Why are the Moomins so popular? Some of the books are surprisingly philosophical and even dark and some of the characters are downright seditious; the Moomins, for all their humor and love, are often a little bleak. Tove Jansson, who modeled many of her characters on people in her life, was as talented an artist as she was a writer; here, for your delectation, are her illustrations for The Hobbit. Previously on Metafilter.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:58 AM PST - 36 comments winner

August 12, 2006
I found a site with hundreds of old TV theme songs. It’s not much to look at, and the audio ain’t the best, but it’s free (and apparently maintained by a patriotic american, thank you, sir). Spending some hours there reminded me that composers and musicians used to take the craft seriously. You can find just about anything. Good? The Avengers, Barney Miller, Green Hornet, Hawaii Five-O, Rockford Files, Room 222. Feelgood? The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. Cheese? Dynasty, Three’s Company, Flo. 80s schlock? Hardcastle & McCormick, Hunter. Check out the mess that is the theme for The Bionic Woman. Did you remember that Jose Feliciano did Chico and the Man? I bet you didn't know...well...WTF: The Associates. I wondered where the tradition went, but, then, after MTV, I guess all the media became one and ‘TV’ ‘Theme’ ‘Music’ became something like this. My favorite theme? I had to go elsewhere to find it: it’s my own.
posted by toma at 8:37 PM PST - 58 comments runner-up

This is what we all hoped the internet would be about. When we discovered the internet, most of us saw it as a way to connect to other people. Peter has only been on youtube for a week. His first video has been viewed nearly 300,000 times, and there isn't a single idiot teenager within range of the camera. Do you have a few minutes to spare? Spend them with Peter. Six videos, and hopefully, more to come.
posted by HuronBob at 6:13 PM PST - 86 comments winner

Winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize for Literature, a peace activist who opposed reunification for fear Germany might once again war against its neighbors, ghost-writer of Willy Brandt's speeches, author of the great fabulist history of World War II and postwar Germany, The Tin Drum, and of My Century, a novel of one hundred chapters, one for each year of the last century, a man considered part of the artistic movement known in German as "Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung" or "coming to terms with the past", Günter Grass belatedly admits the history he expunged from his personal narrative: his service as a member of the 10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg of the Waffen-SS. In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Grass explained his service would stain him forever, but that only after the war did he feel ashamed of having been in the Waffen-SS:
for me, because I am sure of my recollection, the Waffen SS was nothing frightful, but rather an elite unit that they sent where things were hot, and which, as people said about it, had the heaviest losses.

posted by orthogonality at 5:46 AM PST - 46 comments runner-up

August 11, 2006
Here's a cute dress that doesn't need a pattern, has only one seam, can be worn in about a bzillion different ways, looks great on various body types, and takes only an hour to make.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:47 AM PST - 38 comments winner

BULLSHIT! Penn & Teller present their rational, libertarian bent views on diverse subjects, now available for free download on Google Video ::: profanity; creationism; alien abductions; conspiracy theories; recycling; gun control; endangered species; religion; the bible; family values; the apocalypse; signs from heaven; the occult; 12-step recovery programs; exercise v. genetics; environmentalism; hypnosis; ghosts; the war on drugs; feng shui / bottled water; college; PETA; and abstinence.
posted by crunchland at 9:22 AM PST - 114 comments runner-up

I've always lumped musician Eugene Chadbourne in with the likes of Wesley Willis and Daniel Johnston, but I may have been mistaken. While his songs are often absurd, experimental, and silly, he's much less eccentric than I'd always thought. In addition to having an incredible output (full discography with notes here and in-depth review here), he has worked with everyone from John Zorn to Jello Biafra, even fronting the band Camper Van Beethoven as Camper Van Chadbourne. He has also been a writer for MaximumRocknRoll and AMG and is the inventor of the electric rake (a musical instrument that would certainly annoy your neighbors). YouTube has two awesome Chadbourne finds: THIS is a 19-minute documentary about him and THIS is a cable access show he appeared on called I'm Going to Make a Drug with My Mind (if you like cable access television, this is awesome, but please note that this video is 31-minutes long, including 60 seconds of color bars. Eugene comes on a little after the 17-minute mark). [WARNING: YouTube. A lot of YouTube in this post]
posted by elr at 12:28 AM PST - 34 comments runner-up

August 10, 2006
Tiny animals look especially tiny when perched on fingers. From mefi's own specklet.
posted by dersins at 11:19 AM PST - 35 comments runner-up

August 9, 2006
Large scans of plates, largely for Robert Plot’s Natural History of Staffordshire (1686). You can view more of Burghers work here.
posted by tellurian at 11:49 PM PST - 6 comments runner-up

ShakeMovie The Near Real Time Simulation of Southern California Seismic Events Portal. Earthquake animations from Caltech.
"These movies are the results of simulations carried out on a large computer cluster. Earthquake movies will be available for download approximately 45 mins after the occurrence of a quake of magnitude 3.5 or greater."
posted by thatwhichfalls at 10:50 PM PST - 2 comments runner-up

John Powers: Analog recursion. via dataisnature.
posted by signal at 10:19 PM PST - 13 comments winner

Escher's "Relativity" in Lego (original) [source]
posted by nthdegx at 5:57 PM PST - 17 comments runner-up

The Stephen Colbert "On Notice Board" Generator
posted by ColdChef at 4:30 PM PST - 59 comments winner

NWTF | 2 DAGOS | JOHN316 | C9H13N | RDRAGE | XONSUX | UDINK | SHTHPNS | GOTMILF | HMFIC | TRY4FUN | LTRS
posted by Otis at 10:09 AM PST - 99 comments runner-up

August 8, 2006
Oh, the huge manatee! Newsfilter/Manatee filter. A visitor to the Hudson River: "The manatee has been spotted at 23rd Street near Chelsea Piers, West 125th Street, and later in Westchester County. It appeared to be healthy." More here.
posted by jokeefe at 11:09 AM PST - 26 comments runner-up

Around the world on a Dream Machine — 77 years ago, the giant German airship LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin left Lakehurst, NJ on an aerial world tour sponsored by American media mogul William Randolph Hearst. The airship's gondola carried 20 passengers in high-tech style, including: U.S. Navy observer Charles Rosendahl; English pilot, Zeppelin frequent flyer, and Hearst reporter Lady Grace Drummond-Hay; and Japanese naval aviator Ryunosuke Kusaka. The 41 crewmen were captained by Dr. Hugo Eckener, Zeppelin champion and the world's best airship pilot. The hydrogen-filled LZ-127 flew over the Atlantic to Germany, Siberia, Japan, over the Pacific to California, across the United States, and back to Lakehurst. The 20,500 mile, 21-day flight—with 12 flying days at ~80 mph top speed—defined airship travel's golden age. [More inside]
posted by cenoxo at 7:21 AM PST - 24 comments winner

My post-mortem to-do checklist, so far: 1. Study marine biology. 2. Accessorize my hot, wealthy widow. 3. Relay a few spooky telegrams to my spooky new friends. 4. Try to look as suspicious as possible. And that's even before rigor mortis sets in!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:51 AM PST - 37 comments runner-up

August 7, 2006
"Soon there would be no space left. But the cats kept coming. What could she do with them all? The solution turned out to be right outside Henriette's front door. If people could live on the houseboats which lined the canals, why not cats? And so came the idea to buy one for them." De Poezenboot.
posted by reklaw at 3:18 PM PST - 22 comments winner

Meet Gary Tivoli, Staples' Storage Media Aisle Specialist. "It's strange -- this morning, when I get up, I'm on the floor, halfway stuck underneath the bed, on the wall, with the mattress stacked over me. I don't even know where I am for a minute..." Providence, RI musician/producer Gavin Castleton and poet Cyrus Leddy recorded Tivoli's ramblings and then transformed them into a narrative album, backing his erratic but engaging storytelling with plush beats. Think "A Grand Don't Come For Free", except compelling and with much better music. (Via NPR's Open Mic)
posted by Embryo at 8:59 AM PST - 23 comments runner-up

Bought from a slave trader and put on display at the Bronx zoo: the strange, sad story of Ota Benga, a Pygmy with filed teeth brought from the Congo to America in 1906. Here are a couple of contemporary news accounts of the controversial exhibit. After the zoo, Benga tried to make a life in America, studying to be a missionary. "But what he really wanted to do was to tell everyone in this country that his people were dying, and why. I think he thought that eventually they'd listen. But they never did. That, to me, is the real tragedy." In 1916, at the age of 32, he built a ceremonial fire, chipped off the caps on his teeth, performed a final tribal dance, and shot himself with a stolen pistol. Creationists say the story illustrates "the racism of evolutionary theory" and "the horrors that evolutionary theory has brought to society."
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:16 AM PST - 35 comments runner-up

August 6, 2006
Port Revel sits at the foot of the French Alps near Grenoble, France. Since 1967 [PDF], its landlocked harbor has been the place to go if you want to learn how to sail a fleet [PDF] of the world's largest ships.
posted by cenoxo at 10:29 PM PST - 6 comments runner-up

Touch this bunny to make it happy (slightly NSFW). Ubisoft developer Heather Kelley has an interesting Nintendo DS game concept meant to "improve actual sex in the world". I've always wanted to improve that.
posted by Drunken_munky at 1:19 PM PST - 15 comments runner-up

The inside of Farmer John's hog rendering plant in Vernon, California, is among the worst places on Earth if you happen to be a hog, which is why the outside of the building is such a case study in mural based irony. In 1957, perhaps as a trap to lure in unsuspecting piglets who had come to Los Angeles to make it in the movies, the folks at Farmer John's hired Hollywood set designer Les Grimes to begin painting a mural on the outside of the factory, a job that he continued until his death 11 years later. The result, entitled "Hog Heaven", depicts a pastoral wonderland, clearly a prime destination for any visiting out of town porcine rube. Surely one of the world's largest murals, the work stretches around the entire square cityblock worth of slaughterhouse, and (legend has it) is so large that not unlike the Golden Gate bridge, no sooner is it done being painted than the painter must begin touching it up all over again.
posted by jonson at 12:17 AM PST - 36 comments winner

August 5, 2006
Bikely makes use of the Google Maps API to make it easy to learn new bicycle paths. Select any path (example) and export its GPX path into your GPS tracker (e.g., cell phone or Palm) — or share your own favorite bike rides.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:59 PM PST - 15 comments runner-up

Holding up sprigs of parsley, Trujillo's men queried their prospective victims: What is this thing called? The terrified victim's fate lay in his pronunciation of the answer. Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo spearheaded an anti-Haitian massacre in which armed thugs killed every Creole speaker who couldn't pronounce the trilled R in the Spanish word for parsley. (Using pronunciation to make ethnic distinctions is called a shibboleth, a tactic often used in wars.) The murders inspired Edwige Danticat's The Farming of Bones and Mario Vargas Llosa's Feast of the Goat, as well as a poem recited for Bill Clinton by poet laureate Rita Dove. Ironically, Trujillo's desire to "whiten" Hispaniola not only led him to order the 1937 massacre, but to lobby in 1938 for the settlement of Jews fleeing Hitler.
posted by jonp72 at 5:13 PM PST - 9 comments runner-up

Nivbed's artwork
posted by nthdegx at 4:49 AM PST - 13 comments winner

"It is doubtful that the popular sport in Seattle can survive," wrote a Seattle sportswriter in 1966, after three of unlimited hydroplane racing's most popular drivers were killed in one horrific day in Washington, D.C. Forty years later, what was once the most popular sport in Seattle survives, if not thrives, and this weekend's Chevrolet Cup will feature boats with safety improvements that trace directly back to the events of "Black Sunday". But it's nothing like it used to be in the 60s and 70s, when "winning a hydro race was about the biggest thing a Seattle kid could do," and everyone in town, knew names like the boats Miss Bardahl, Miss Budweiser, and the drivers Bill Muncey, Chip Hanauer, and Dean Chenoweth -- and no one, but no one would miss the Seafair hydro races.
posted by litlnemo at 3:00 AM PST - 18 comments runner-up

Fantastic gallery of some really advanced looking crop circles, including hi-res versions for your desktop wallpapering pleasure.
posted by lilbrudder at 12:40 AM PST - 13 comments runner-up

August 4, 2006
A crash course in how to collect semen from your bull. You're probably going to want to start with a Breeding Soundness Examination [NSF anyone with eyes. Oh god.] Decide if you want to go with an artificial vagina or electroejaculation. Remember that "Successful electroejaculation of an animal demands skill. It is not simply a matter of punching buttons and turning knobs, but requires finesse in determining the proper timing and amplitude of pulses to apply to a given male. " Read the guidelines for making your artificial vagina and get more info on when to use the shocker. Then evaluate the semen for abnorabilities. Try not to lose any as it can be fairly valuable. For a good overview, consider attending this course.
posted by hindmost at 7:41 PM PST - 21 comments runner-up

An official comic book adaptation of the 9/11 commission report is due to hit bookstores this month. The U.S. Army seeks an Arabic-speaking comic book creator. Meanwhile, an Israeli blogger suspects a Kuwaiti company of misusing Marvel and DC comics. These are just the latest incidents in a long-running history of using comic books for propaganda purposes, ranging from Mussolini and Hitler to Captain America vs. the Nazi-affiliated Red Skull to anticommunist comics for Catholic parochial schools to a phony Black Panther comic book created by COINTELPRO to a comic book of the American invasion of Grenada. However, my favorite site of comic book propaganda tends to focus on more innocuous domestic issues such as bicycle safety, USDA nutrition standards, and fighting crack cocaine. (OK, that last issue isn't so innocuous, but comic book propaganda about health & safety issues still generally blows.)
posted by jonp72 at 9:59 AM PST - 38 comments winner

Gbalf Xozmn Ram Rqzyk Wtacu Lkugc Aaxjx Owkyu Dkoxk Zamdg Bnuio Nmrxk Zmqyf Nqeog Ziqxf Gutxe Nkmxd Gzmqj Brqge Kxkfs Qqzui Nactg Djfnq Eenaa Xjnk
posted by justkevin at 8:41 AM PST - 68 comments runner-up

August 3, 2006
"Have entered industrial wasteland - unbelievable hell-hole. Clocked 4000miles! Border guards nicked our fizzy cola bottles! Gits! Roads r not good."

Two weeks ago 159 crap cars set off from London, England for Ulan Bataar, Mongolia. A journey spanning 8,000 miles, 2 deserts, 5 mountain ranges, on roads ranging from bad to non-existent. All this with no support crew and in a car you swapped for a bag of crisps. Stir in the odd party in far-flung parts of the globe, dodgy border crossings, and the occasional bribe and you have an inkling of the Mongol Rally.

Sound too safe for you? Maybe racing a rickshaw across the Indian subcontinent for a spot of tea is more your speed.
Two great charity events brought to you by the Institute of Adventure Research
posted by woj at 10:12 PM PST - 38 comments runner-up

TOO MUCH BLOOD IN MY STOOL! THIS COULD BE COLOGNE CANCER! (NSFW) Eddie Reedom's site, www.choppercarsfraud.com claims Josh "Chop" Towbin and Towbin Dodge (known for their silly infomercials and the A&E series King of Cars) defrauded him of $50m to $100m. Among the evidence is photos of his stool, and video of an unruly Australian Buddhist security guard who kicks Reedom's truck. While Reedom may seem a bit nuts, there are tens of millions of Americans with bad credit. If you're one of them, seek some good advice before signing up for any loan. Credit problems are enough to drive anyone insane.
posted by b_thinky at 2:02 PM PST - 25 comments winner

Ramsey Kearney was a teenage country music prodigy nicknamed the Dixie Farmboy, a rockabilly singer with the Jimmie Martin Combo, a songwriter for Brenda Lee, and a producer of the most cloying Elvis tribute single ever recorded. Kearney would have almost no connection to alternative music whatsoever until John Trubee, a notorious crank phone caller and sideman for Zoogz Rift, found an ad in the back of the Midnight Globe tabloid from Kearney's Nashco Records label, a song-poem company offering to put his words to music for a small fee. Trubee sent his own disturbing LSD-fueled lyrics to Nashco, but to his surprise, Nashco accepted the lyrics after taking a $79.95 fee from Trubee. Kearney tweaked the lyrics slightly in order to avoid a lawsuit from Stevie Wonder, but the end product was the cult classic novelty song, Blind Man's Penis. (more inside)
posted by jonp72 at 8:25 AM PST - 12 comments runner-up

August 2, 2006
Dice Wars is a flash game, similar to Risk. The goal is to conquer the entire board. Start easy, with just the two player version (play goes up to 7 players max). In order to "win" a square, the randomized total of your die roll must be higher than your opponent's total. Tie/Lose, and all your dice (but one) are removed from your square. After each turn, the number of dice you earned is randomly distributed among your conquered squares. Strategically, it's good to build a solid base of contiguous squares, and staff your front lines with more dice than your edge squares.
posted by jonson at 5:50 PM PST - 32 comments runner-up

Brooks Stevens, the man who once said, "there is nothing more aerodynamic than a wiener," created the iconic Wienermobile , but was also responsible for many other innovations in industrial design. He put the first window in a clothes dryer, built a land-yacht and streamlined train, developed an important precursor to the SUV, and designed the wide-mouth peanut butter jar and an aerodynamic vacuum cleaner. More lastingly, he also created the idea of planned obsolescence, the "desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary."
posted by blahblahblah at 11:59 AM PST - 31 comments winner

Manhattan Timeformations. Mapping Manhattan's skyscraper districts through time. [more]
posted by nickyskye at 4:05 AM PST - 10 comments runner-up

August 1, 2006
Get Rich Slowly, a personal finance web site (created by our jdroth), has been educational to someone who spent most of his life until now pretending financial matters don't exist. His blog is updated frequently, and contains insightful tips on living frugally, eliminating debt, saving and investing. Between his site, and another very educational site entitled I Will Teach You To Be Rich (start here), I've greatly expanded my knowledge about managing my money effectively. Perhaps most importantly, they're both consistently interesting and easy reads. [more inside]
posted by knave at 10:35 AM PST - 73 comments runner-up

96 Minutes... 40 years later. Texas Monthly has an article that, through eyewitness accounts, tells the tale of Charles Whitman. Forty years ago today--before 9/11, Columbine, Oklahoma City, "going postal"--Whitman perpetrated an act of public terror that impacted the national conscience. It all began when he killed his mother. Then he started typing a letter that, after he killed his wife, he finished hand-writing. Then he went to the Tower with a small arsenal and began the slaughter. Over 96 minutes he killed 13 more people and wounded 34 others until off-duty Officer Ray Martinez made it to the top of the tower and killed Whitman. (more inside)
posted by dios at 9:34 AM PST - 71 comments winner

What's playing? What songs are playing on the radio right now and where, an interactive map. Less fun, but much more useful is the site's ability to look up a station and tell you what songs they recently played. (via J-Walk)
posted by caddis at 8:42 AM PST - 18 comments runner-up