December 21, 2008
Just over sixty years ago the Reverend W. V. Awdry told his sick son a series of stories based on real life incidents with trains, which he later wrote up as the Railway Series. Now Thomas the Tank Engine and the other engines of the Isle of Sodor (somewhere between Barrow-in-Furness and the Isle of Man) are a global phenomena, with toys, books and of course the TV series - filmed using model trains on more than 70 1:32 scale 16-by-20-foot sets, and voiced by the likes of Ringo Starr and Alec Baldwin. 2008 has been a rough year for Thomas: George Carlin, who voiced the series in the US up until 1998, passed away (previously), as did David Mitton, who had written and directed over 180 episodes (and who has previously worked on the special effects for Thunderbirds). There's changes ahead for Thomas as well - this year saw the faces of the engines, which had previously been cast in silicone and attached with double sided tape, replaced by CGI faces, and from 2009 onwards Nitrogen studios in Canada will be taking over production with an entirely CGI Thomas. Meanwhile a group of British students continues the tradition of model engine-based storytelling with their YouTube based British Railway Series.
Poppy For Medicine. "America's drug war in Afghanistan has been a miserable failure. So why not legalize opium production and let Afghanistan become the Saudi Arabia of morphine?"
Ze Frank received many wonderful, heartfelt and poignant responses to from 52 to 48 with love in the form of pictures, comments and emails. However, as it became more widely circulated, it also provoked intense anger and outrage. So, he created angrigami as an attempt to devour the entire carcass, bones, bile and all.
Ice:A Victorian Romance, is an exhibition of fifty-five rare books and journals, with lovely illustrations. [more inside]
The president of a Savings & Loan sent the following email to his family: If you have one hour of your time to invest in learning more about the current economic crisis, I highly recommend you click on one of the two below links and view [Paul Krugman's Friday address to the National Press Club]. His remarks take about 1/2 hour followed by 25 minutes of Q&As. I believe you will find watching it worth your time. P.S. If you decide to view Krugman's speech, I recommend you view it "full screen" for the best effect of viewing his body language. Link 1, Link 2 [more inside]
Audio visual technology changes so fast that if you’re of a certain age you’ve been left holding the bag of cassettes, VHS tapes and vinyl records. What will you do with these AV artifacts if you no longer want to play them? Have no fear; you can have lots of crafty fun with your real audio. You can make a cassette tape mini journal, a cassette wallet or cassette coin purse, or a mini cassette lamp. If you’re into melting stuff, you can make a sculpture, such as this skeleton, from the plastic. The tape can be crocheted or knitted into items like totes, evening bags, Barbie halter dresses, or baby booties. [more inside]
Curtis Steiner is a Seattle businessman and artist who operates a local gift shop. Both his home and his shop have garnered positive press, but his greatest artistic achievement may be his piece entitled 1,000 blocks, which explores the permutations of the six facets of the cube.
Ten winners in the Goethe Institute's Schiller rap contest.
A blow-by-blow analysis of Wachovia's demise, as told by the bank's local paper, The Charlotte Observer.
Chanukkah is the story of a group of warriors (the Maccabees, later the Hasmoneans, led by Mattathias) who rose up against the Greeks (the Seleucids), united the Jews, reclaimed the Temple (Beit HaMikdash), and then lit one day's supply of oil which miraculously lasted for eight days, started a brand new holiday called Chanukkah, and brought Jewish sovereignty and peace to the land of Israel. Except that almost every part of that story is either wrong or completely misleading. [more inside]
Internet apotheosis. When 13 year-old Japanese girls rock Rush, complete with drumstick insanity, then we can all go home. We've done what we've set out to do. (SLYT)
Maybe you didn't get into the oldest Santa Claus School for an elite education. So you considered schools in other places. But being Santa Claus is something you can learn on your own. It's just a matter of learning how to dress and act. If you can handle the hours, the job insecurity, the union, the corporate pressure, and the customer relations, you may just find a jolly career.
"We were classmates in high school... And we spoke the plan to go to Yakushima Island. However, the talk swells greatly...We decided to make a camper for a round-the-japan trip. We thought that various equipment was necessary to long trip. However, the bed space has disappeared when various equipment is packed. Then, the idea adjusted to two stories appeared." More on the truck and the trip. (via Dinosaurs and Robots)
The shoe hurled at President George W. Bush has sent sales soaring at the Turkish maker. "Istanbul-based Baydan Ayakkabicilik ...has received orders for 300,000 pairs of the shoes since the attack, more than four times the number his company sold each year since the model was introduced in 1999. The company plans to employ 100 more staff to meet demand, he said..."
A modified cellphone will revolutionize medicine in the Third World, improve your health, and maybe even make your one-night stands much less nerve-wracking.