December 31, 2010
Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: inspiring and educating children and adults alike since 1825 (with a break for WWII)
"The Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institution are, by a time-honoured custom, invariably addressed to a "juvenile audience." This term, however, has always been held to be an elastic one, and to include those who are young in spirit as well as those who are young in years. The conditions, therefore, necessarily impose on the Lecturer the duty of treating some subject in such a manner that, whilst not beyond the reach of youthful minds, it may yet posses some elements of interest for those of maturer years." Thus began the preface to Waves and Ripples in Water, Air and Æther (alt. link: Google books), the published version of the 1901 lecture given by J.A. Fleming, M.A., D.Sc, F.R.S., providing a good overview of the lecture series that started in 1825 (list in PDF). [more inside]
The Most Serene Republic of San Marino. According to legend, the tiny country of San Marino was founded in 301AD by Saint Marinus of Rab, and is thus the world’s oldest republic. Occupying 24 square miles around Mount Titano in the middle of Italy, it is the fifth smallest country in the world. [more inside]
Radio Spiritworld broadcasting on 6.22 megahertz in the 49 metre band on shortwave and selected ouija boards
Radio Spiritworld (Inter-dimensional) is the only station broadcasting from the afterlife into the living world. Well, actually it's a half an hour of wonderfully inventive audio-comedy from Peter Serafinowicz and Robert Popper, writers and creators of Look Around You, who between them have worked on or appeared in all the recent British comedies you love. [iTunes download link]
Bob Dylan had a radio show, the Theme Time Radio Hour, from May 2006 to April 2009. The archive contains shows on themes such as Thanksgiving Leftovers, The Bible, and Women's Names (click on the arrows to download the full radio show).
"It's a stretch of pavement both enriched and torn apart by class and ethnic divisions. When you go over a bridge or under a viaduct on this street you've left one country for another. It's the American melting pot at full boil." Halsted Street USA. (1995, 56 minutes, Color)
The first pictures of China's "5th generation" fighter prototype were leaked this week. The aircraft, believed to be the J-20, is expected to have its first flight in early 2011. [more inside]
The intro to Duck Tales in Arabic, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Portugese, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, and Swedish. (MLYT) [more inside]
(NSFW) BUTT magazine (previously, previouslier) has undergone a huge redesign this year and asked readers to submit reviews of their sexual encounters. They don't always go well. [more inside]
The scene of the year is a squirm-inducing stunner that manages to make us sympathize with a would-be murderer. [more inside]
You are in a warm, dark, comfortable place. This has been your place since you became aware that you are alive. It's almost time to enter a different world now. In 1986, Activision published a roleplaying computer game called Alter Ego. Unlike the action and fantasy titles that ruled the day, this game simulated the course of a single ordinary life. Beginning at birth, players navigated a series of vignettes: learning to crawl, reacting to strangers, getting a first haircut. The outcome of each scenario subtly influenced one's path, and with every choice players slowly progressed through infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. Graphically minimalist -- one's lifestream is represented by simple icons, and the scenarios are all text -- the game was nevertheless engaging, describing the world in a playful, good-natured tone tinged by darkness and melancholy. And it had quite a pedigree; developer and psychology PhD Peter Favaro interviewed hundreds of people on their most memorable life experiences to generate the game's 1,200 pages of material. Unfortunately for Dr. Favaro, the game didn't sell very well. But it lives on through the web -- PlayAlterEgo.com offers a full copy of the game free to play in your browser, and the same port is available as a $5 app for iPhone and Android. More: Port discussion group - Wishlist - Vintage review - Original game manual (text or scans)
Just in time, perhaps one of the most anticipated online video releases of 2010 has arrived. RedLetterMedia presents the Plinkett Review of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith. (3 parts, 110 minutes) [more inside]
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has declined to pardon William H. Bonney, aka Kid Antrim, aka Henry McCarty, but best known as Billy the Kid. [more inside]
I’m crammed into a burrow so small that my knees are up around my ears and the boom mike keeps slamming into my head, inhaling the potent scent of toffee-apple brandy and trying to drink a talking mouse under the table. But is it really the boom mike that’s making my head pound? I know for sure that my camera man doesn’t usually have two heads. I have to face facts. The mouse is winning.No Reservations: Narnia. [more inside]
“We want them to enjoy the level of celebrity attention that I usually get,” says George Clooney. “If you know your actions are going to be covered, you tend to behave much differently than when you operate in a vacuum.” —He’s talking about the “anti-genocide paparazzi” of the Satellite Sentinel Project, which has hired private satellites to monitor troop movements around Abyei during the upcoming Sudanese referendum in the hopes of preventing war crimes. Patrick Meier has some thoughts on whether this Panopticon approach might work, and if we could even tell.
"He might have read the document when he was tired, at the end of a long day of being tied to a whale."
"They're not out to make a quick buck, they're looking to protect the integrity of the franchise and its mythology." 1998's Star Trek Insurrection went through a number of different plots before becoming the film we ultimately saw. Starting out as Star Trek: Stardust, the first take on the idea involved Captain Picard going all Heart of Darkness on a former friend from his Starfleet Academy days in a bid to find the Fountain of Youth. That treatment evolved into a remarkably Avatarish story called simply Star Trek IX in which Picard must go upriver to kill a malfunctioning Data as part of a Federation/Romulan alliance to displace strange alien natives from a planet teeming with a valuable and rare ore (spoiler: Picard actually kills Data in this treatment, and Tom Hanks was supposed to have a major role somewhere). Let the late Michael Piller guide you through the writing of Insurrection in his unpublished book Fade In: The Making of Star Trek: Insurrection (his "last great gift to the fans and to aspiring writers everywhere") in which he presents his original story treatments, story notes from his bosses at Paramount, surprisingly reasonable Trekker-type reactions from actors Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner, and much more. First made freely available by TrekCore.com, Piller's family has since asked that it be removed, but you'll still find the file roaming the Internet if you boldly go looking for it. [more inside]
Time for a break, Rosie. All the day long, Whether rain or shine She’s part of the assembly line. She’s making history, Working for victory Rosie the Riveter [more inside]
"The first image you have of many of your favourite films is probably a Bill Gold creation." His sparse, iconic poster designs have helped to define movies for over six decades, from Casablanca, Dial M for Murder and My Fair Lady, to A Clockwork Orange, The Exorcist and The Sting. His longest-lasting creative partnership was with Clint Eastwood, spanning every Eastwood movie from 1972’s Dirty Harry to 1993’s Mystic River — not forgetting the unforgettable design for Unforgiven. When Eastwood presented Gold with a Lifetime Key Art Award from the Hollywood Reporter in 1994, he simply called Gold "the greatest." A signed, limited edition collection of his greatest works can be yours for just £400. It's not simply a record of the posters he ended up creating, but a fascinating look into the artistic process, from sketch to billboard. When Lars Trodson asked Gold about his phenomenal career in 2009, he answered with characteristic understatement: "I can hardly believe it."
Halfway around the world tonight / In a strange and foreign land / A soldier packs his memories / As he leaves Afghanistan --Arlo Guthrie
...if all these neocons who worship the Ancient Greeks, like Victor Davis Hanson, really want to know what their precious Greeks were like, those boy-fucking, throat-slitting, 400-verse war-song reciting founders of our glorious civilization and all that, they should go live in a Pashtun village.... Well, the Pashtun are sensible people too. They don’t have much to lose, and they’re not that scared of dying.... They’ve got nothing coming from the whole Thomas Friedman world, and they’d be fools to think they do.from The War Nerd: Market Lessons from the Pashtun [more inside]
The last roll of Kodachrome film was given to Steve McCurry, who took the famous Afghan Girl photograph with it, and yesterday was the last day that you could get it processed. here are some of the frames from that roll. previously
In an action "unprecedented in the democratic world" Moshe Katsav, the eighth President of Israel, has been convicted of rape. The former President is expected to appeal the conviction, which carries a minimum penalty of four years in prison. There is little sympathy for Moshe Katsav on a day that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as "a sad day for the State of Israel and its residents." The Jerusalem Post is left with one question: Should the plaques come down?