March 2, 2009

Fire towers

The fire tower, or fire lookout, was one of the main wildfire-fighting tools of forest services across the world for much of the 20th century. Most are small cabins, alone or placed on 80-foot steel towers; these are then placed on top of peaks, giving them an unobstructed view of the surrounding countryside. (There are some exceptions, of course.) Operators in the towers, equipped with binoculars and firefinders, spent their days searching for smoke or lightning strikes, which would be pinpointed and radioed in for firefighters. (The lookout operators, who staff the towers for a season at a time straight, have a life that is generally pretty solitary and quiet, though sometimes rather intense.) At peak, there were thousands of fire towers across North America; while most of these no longer exist, a few hundred are still active. [more inside]
posted by Upton O'Good at 11:43 PM PST - 35 comments

woo woo woo.. nyuk nyuk nyuk

Jabberjaw [more inside]
posted by pwedza at 11:28 PM PST - 28 comments

Mayonnaise. It's the shmaltz of our lives.

The latest Mad Men parody... Meshugene Men. (with cameo by Amy Sedaris)
posted by miss lynnster at 11:19 PM PST - 6 comments

Neuroengineering

Rewiring the Brain: Inside the New Science of Neuroengineering. Dial H for Happiness: How Neuroengineering May Change Your Brain.
posted by homunculus at 10:15 PM PST - 7 comments

the mini goats can keep the mini ponies company

"It's going to sound weird, but she is my kid. I'm going to fight to keep her," Kevin said. "She's second-generation. Her mom was a house goat." [more inside]
posted by grippycat at 9:59 PM PST - 36 comments

Historical Maps of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Holy Land Maps and Ancient Maps of Jerusalem both showcase parts of Eran Laor Cartographic Collection. Both collectiona can be browsed by cartographer and date. Here are some of my favorite maps: 1497 perspective map of Jerusalem, Jacotin's 1818 map of Nazareth, Jordan and Acre, 1685 perspective map of Jerusalem, 1482 Ptolemy of the Middle East, 1751 map of Egypt, Arabia and the Middle East and 1928 perspective map of Jerusalem (complete with Hebrew guide). [Another part of The Eran Laor Cartographic Collection previously on MetaFilter]
posted by Kattullus at 9:45 PM PST - 5 comments

Blush

Blush. A squid flash game. Kind of like flow but less abstract/meditative, more shiny & fast paced.
posted by juv3nal at 8:45 PM PST - 23 comments

The Path Less Travelled

The Path is a new independent horror-game inspired by the original Little Red Riding Hood stories, being developed by Tale of Tales (previously). The website is fun to explore, and the blog has many links to (and interviews with) their inspirations. They've also interviewed some other game designers. [via]
posted by empath at 7:52 PM PST - 4 comments

It was worse than you thought.

The Obama Justice Department has released nine legal memos from the Bush administration that assert broad extra-Constitutional powers for the president. The memos assert that both the First and Fourth Amendments may be subordinated to the needs of wartime. [more inside]
posted by EarBucket at 7:35 PM PST - 81 comments

He Who Hesitates is Disincentivised

Omaha rockers Cursive are selling their new album for just $1... No wait, it's $2... $3... $4... WTF?? In yet another twist on the whole, name-your-price (Radiohead), fan-financed (Jill Sobule), take-shrooms-and-cruise-hollywood (Josh Freese) tiered pricing experiment being carried out by what's left of the music industry, Cursive are increasing the price of their new record by $1 each day until its "official" release. Given the popularity of sites like Did it Leak (and the corresponding file-sharing forums that I won't link to here) it seems to me like this is a pretty good way to reward well-intentioned but impatient fans who might otherwise resort to less honorable means of getting the latest stuff from their favorite bands. Or maybe it's just another hare-brained scheme that will only hasten the end of record labels as we know them. Either way, they got my $1... And that was after I already got my hands on the mp3s!
posted by idontlikewords at 7:02 PM PST - 24 comments

The history of the experimentalization of life.

The Virtual Laboratory - A collection of essays, biographies, instruments and trade catalogues (e.g. experiment kit) from between 1830 and 1930. I must warn you that some of the films are a bit disturbing. Check out the eerie sounding vowel experiments in the audio section too.
posted by tellurian at 6:52 PM PST - 9 comments

"Me not being part of the equation reduces the 'X' on the thing."

Two weeks after re-christening his mercenary outfit with the inscrutable moniker Xe, Erik Prince steps down as CEO. This news amid layoffs, multiple lawsuits, criminal charges, a helicopter crash, contract losses and outright banishment. Meanwhile, Xe reaches out to new target markets. Nostalgic for the old days? The Blackwater Pro Shop still has gear!
posted by grounded at 5:22 PM PST - 56 comments

Postcards from Israel (or stamps, anyway).

Postcards from Israel (or stamps, anyway). COLOURlovers (previously) has posted a set of color palettes drawn from designer and blogger Karen Horton's flickr collection of vintage Israeli postage stamps. [more inside]
posted by sarabeth at 4:19 PM PST - 3 comments

For those of us who didn't take Econ in school.

Confused about the banking crisis? Confused by banks in general? This American Life's latest show Bad Bank (streaming, mp3) is a highly informative (and entertaining) overview of how banks work, and what problems they--and we all--face in this current crisis. Produced by another great NPR show, Planet Money.
posted by zardoz at 3:39 PM PST - 23 comments

Miracle on the Hudson.

The Hudson River plane landing was reconstructed by SceneSystems.
posted by gman at 2:52 PM PST - 50 comments

Mehness and FAILitude

John Hodgman: "Did I ever tell you people how much I hate the word 'meh'? Nothing announces 'I have missed the point' more than that word. It is the essence of blinkered Internet malcontentism. And a rejection of joy. By definition, it may mean disinterest (although simple silence would be a more damning and sincere response, in that case). But in use, it almost universally seems to signal: I am just interested enough to make one last joyless, nitpicky swipe and then disappear. It's part of the toxic Internet art of constant callous one upsmanship." (via Andy Baio)

Andy Baio: "Part of the problem is that 'FAIL' implies objective truth, when it's just your personal opinion. Tantek Çelik pointed out that, in LOLspeak, 'DO NOT WANT' would be more appropriate since it clearly conveys a personal opinion. [...] I know many people who make stuff for the web, all of them very passionate about what they do. And every time I see a 'FAIL' assigned to their work, it makes me sad. Yes, I know you're trying to be funny. But I'm starting to see a trend away from the funny, and towards the angry, bitchy, or mean. So please, mind yer words." [more inside]
posted by WCityMike at 2:12 PM PST - 181 comments

Can you believe your eyes?

Supreme Court Enters the YouTube Age. Previous posts have shown that video is a powerful tool. Now The Supreme Court views video evidence through it's eyes. Most but not all are ready to let the video speak for itself. [more inside]
posted by pianomover at 1:53 PM PST - 25 comments

Pimp my (board) game

Geeky? Crafty? Got some time on your hands? Make your own boardgame pieces! Tutorials for making custom 3-d Settlers of Catan tiles (and gorgeous custom sets here, and here, although with no instructions,alas). Agricola more your style? Grab some polymer clay and get making resources, more resources, food, sheep, more sheep, boars, cattle, and (of course) farmers, farmers, farmers, farmers, farmers, and farmers. Don't forget fences, tiles, and a starting player piece. Lots more in the image gallery at BoardGameGeek.
posted by arcticwoman at 1:40 PM PST - 15 comments

Making an exhibition of yourself

"I have no expectations. I would be absolutely happy if somebody got up there with an umbrella and just stood still for an hour. The idea is that this will be a portrait of Britain made out of 2,400 hours of 2,400 people's lives." [more inside]
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 1:21 PM PST - 18 comments

Dude a day offers you dudes. Every day.

Dude-a-day: 365 Days of Dudes - October 2008 through October 2009.
posted by boo_radley at 12:35 PM PST - 27 comments

Sliding House

"The brief was simple: to build a house to retire to in order to grow food, entertain and enjoy the East Anglia landscape. The outcome was as unconventional as they come. A structure that has the ability to vary or connect the overall building's composition and character according to season, weather or simply a desire to delight. Wallpaper* took a trip to the site to capture the physical phenomenon in the only medium that serves it justice - film." via
posted by Knappster at 12:34 PM PST - 15 comments

Ackee and guinea pigs and cachupa and oil down and...

Though not usually made official (well, except for Texas*, which designated chili as its official dish in 1977), most countries have a generally acknowledged national dish that represents its history, culture, flora and fauna.**

For Aruba and Curacao: Keshi yena, a stuffed cheese. [more inside]
posted by mudpuppie at 12:17 PM PST - 17 comments

Conveyor Sushi Video 2.0

Another camera-on-conveyor incident rocks Sushi-loving Japan.
Previously
posted by Mwongozi at 11:34 AM PST - 112 comments

China's view of Tibet

West 'uses Tibet to attack China'. Against a background of Chinese authorities denying police had shot a young Tibetan monk who tried to set himself on fire, China has issued Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet. For a little background: FACTBOX - Historical ties between China and Tibet. [more inside]
posted by shetterly at 10:57 AM PST - 33 comments

Berlin is Burning

Conspicuous Combustion: since May 2007, 292 luxury cars have been burned in Berlin. A simple Google Map at brennende-autos.de ("Burning Cars") charts the date, model, and location of each.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:45 AM PST - 66 comments

"Again, it almost seems as if the peenworm possessed human feelings"

Reproduction Cycle Among Unicellular Life Forms Under the Rocks Of Mars A 9-minute claymation exploration of the various reproductive stages of the Martian peenworm, so crucial to our nuclear beer and the Martian war. [Some monster nudity, simulated stop-motion sex] [via] [more inside]
posted by mediareport at 9:18 AM PST - 15 comments

Under the Eye of the Clock

Irish poet and writer Christopher Nolan died on the 20 Feb. Nolan was born with cerebral palsy, and typed using a 'unicorn stick' attached to his head. Nolan has never spoken, yet his poetry has been compared to that of Joyce, Keats, and Yeats. [more inside]
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 8:17 AM PST - 27 comments

NEW WAY OF DRIVING ALL GREEN

Scott Summit, a self-anointed solution engineer and life hacker, shows you how to beat the traffic system at its own game.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 5:46 AM PST - 42 comments

Should we care about Carl Lundström's xenophobia?

The notorious torrent tracker The Pirate Bay was originally established with the support of Carl Lundström, who continues to hold a significant stake in the enterprise and support it financially. Carl Lundström is also a supporter of far-right anti-immigrant parties and was allegedly involved in an violent attack against three Latin Americans. Now a well known online computer magazine suggests that geek sympathies for The Pirate Bay have kept reporters from covering this issue. Wired's coverage only says that Lundström's detractors point to a past in nationalist politics. The Pirate Bay's defenders dismiss the questions as being nothing more than a slur, but the attacks and defense beg a fundamental question: can the views of a financial supporter taint an otherwise neutral organisation?
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:50 AM PST - 89 comments