December 29, 2011
The London Geographical Journal, the preeminent publication in its field, observed in 1953 that “Fawcett marked the end of an age. One might almost call him the last of the individualist explorers. The day of the aeroplane, the radio, the organized and heavily financed modern expedition had not arrived. With him, it was the heroic story of a man against the forest.” Fawcett was none other than Percival "Percy" Harrison Fawcett, British soldier, trained as a surveyor of unknown lands, doubling as a British spy. But his true love was exploration, and not simply to mark boundaries on a map. His final goal was the same that had been the demise of many explorers: a mighty lost civilization in South America. [more inside]
How do you promote a passion for scientific literacy? Create a video series with lectures from Feynman or Carl Sagan and then add incredible video. [more inside]
“I truly believe that when men and women think about parking, their mental capacity reverts to the reptilian cortex of the brain,”
Here is Left-Handed Toons (By Right-Handed People), a weekdaily webcomic drawn by two guys, Justin and Drew, using their "off" hands, and with their "off" brains. They have a lot of series. Here's some highlight strips.
Inspired by SMITH magazine's six-word Memoir project and books (previously), Minnesota Public Radio asks, "In six words, how would you describe 2011?"
<<Vertigo is an impossible object: a gimcrack plot studded with strange gaps that nonetheless rides a pulse of peculiar necessity, a field of association that simultaneously expands and contracts like its famous trick shot, a ghost story whose spirits linger even after having been apparently explained away, and a study of obsession that becomes an obsessive object in its own right, situated likewise on the edge of unreality. This video series avoids assigning the film any determinate shape and tries instead to enter it through a number of side doors, each indicative of a way of seeing. Part 1 (QT dl ~500mb) explored some of the ground-level weirdness of the film’s construction, offers a suggestion that the film may exist in its own unique tense, and examines two iterations of the (Chris) Marker Hypothesis*. Part 2 (QT dl ~1.5gB) is spooky, reading the film through a phantom appendage then laying down a sort of Vertigo tarot before moving onto slightly more solid ground with a new consideration of Hitchcock’s concept of the MacGuffin. Part 3 (QT dl ~1.9gB) takes the zoom-in-track-out as an emblem, reconsiders the issue of point of view, then throws all the pieces back up in the air. That’s a thematic rundown, from the position of the narrator. The images have their own agendas, which often coincide but sometimes don’t.>> [more inside]
Listening to the Deep-Ocean Environment allows you to access ambient ocean noise feeds from around the globe. [via] [more inside]
My Hard-Core Obsession (NSFW Text). Writer and frequent This American Life contributor Shalom Auslander for GQ on hardcore pornography, obsession, shame, self-loathing and the subjectivism of thinking too much.
"From extreme drought, heat waves and floods to unprecedented tornado outbreaks, hurricanes, wildfires and winter storms, a record 12 weather and climate disasters in 2011 each caused $1 billion or more in damages". The US National Weather service has put together a great online exhibit of what was a whirlwind (*ahem*) year for extreme weather events. The exhibit has lots of videos and photographs of these events, such as satellite imagery of the Grounhog Day Blizzard from back in February and a picture of a car damaged by a tornado in Ft. Benning, GA.
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has sold over one million copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.
What is art, really? Is it dependent on context? Do you need an art history degree to appreciate it? Was Jackson Pollock an artist or a scam artist? Are Grand Tour portraits considered art merely because of their age? These questions have been objectively unanswerable - until now. Through the power of the internet, and the experience of Hot or Not, we can measure the democratic answer to these questions.
A couple of commentators present conflicting arguments about whether the golden age of tech blogging is over.
MIT today announced the launch of an online learning initiative internally called “MITx.” Think you can hack it at MIT? If so, the world-renowned university is willing to give you a new kind of credential to prove it. [more inside]
"In short, the world without the Soviet Union has not become safer, more just or more stable. Instead of a new world order—that is, enough global governance to prevent international affairs from becoming dangerously unpredictable—we have had global turmoil, a world drifting in uncharted waters." -- Mikhail Gorbachev writes about the world after the Cold War in The Nation.
Patton Oswalt talks to NPR about his role in the Diablo Cody scripted Young Adult, which is already gaining him Oscar buzz.
This is the story of one cut. Back in October 2010 George Osborne announced £95 billion in cuts to public services, saying he’d leave it to councils to choose what to shut down. Inevitably most of the casualties ended up being unrenowned places, unlikely to stir up much protest - drop-in centers in housing estates, inner-city park rangers, community theatres, etc. I wanted to write about just one of them, about the ripples created by a single closure. I made my selection quite randomly. I chose a place called Youthreach. I didn’t know much about them, only that they offered weekly counseling sessions to young people, aged 11–25, in Greenwich, South East London. Jon Ronson
Eminent analytic philosopher, logician, anti-racist activist, Tarot scholar, and Catholic Sir Michael Dummett has died at 86.
I love rules. Not following them, of course – that’s for other people. I love writing them. And since I’m the best qualified to decide how everyone else is allowed to behave, it’s only appropriate that I be in charge of everything. So it is that I have been making clear the Rules For Games, both for developers and for players...
Feminism's Uneven Success: "Class and racial and ethnic differences among women have intensified over time. The higher earnings of college-educated mothers make it possible for them to purchase child care and help with housework (typically performed by low-wage women workers)... the number of low-skill immigrants living in a large city reduces the tradeoff between employment and fertility for women college graduates. Outsourcing of care responsibilities can have many positive effects, but it reduces the potential for cross-class gender coalitions. Emphasis on changes in women’s average or median earnings relative to men often conceals growing inequality among women." (via)
Stumptown Girl: An indie-rock star satirizes hipster culture, on “Portlandia.” A profile of Carrie Brownstein from The New Yorker.
In 1993 in Dharamsala I met for the first time that amazing music performer, perhaps he was a Rajhastan gypsy. Usually he sat on road side from McLeod Ganch to Dhalai Lama residence. This man-orchestra created great atmosphere, sometimes he sang from eternity even didn't notice listeners. In 2004 I came to Dharamsala and people told me that he passed away. This video is dedicated to him and to people who knew him.
A short look at the role of chance, chaos and coincidence in three films: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Run Lola Run, and Three Colors: Red.
Barbie Trashes Her Dreamhouse is a series of photos of a Barbie-sized house, in which Barbie is a hoarder and the place is stuffed full of shopping bags, pizza boxes, newspapers, and other debris, all in realistic miniature form. It's the work of artist Carrie M. Becker, who has previously created somewhat neater scenes -- as well as some rather ominous. [more inside]