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Life Rolls On

"Pssssttt! What does the yellow light mean?"
"Slow down."
"What... does... the... yellow... light... mean?"
"Slow down!"
"Whaaaaaat... dooooeeees... theeeee... yeeeelllllllllllooowwww... liiiiight... meeeeeeaaaaan?"
"Slow down!!!"
"Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat…." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 11, 2014 - 55 comments

 

"Machismo is basically a drag act"

Wild Beasts are a band from Kendal, England. They have built their sound on Hayden Thorpe's marmite-like countertenor and Tom Fleming's bass, and complex, somewhat sex-obsessed lyrics. Inside, please find a review of the band's history and discography. [more inside]
posted by Going To Maine on Mar 17, 2014 - 13 comments

What the hell are you staring at?"

"I'm just one more duck detective who works with a pig and lives with the twin sister of his dead wife, three sons on two bodies and a comatose mother-in-law who's got so much gas she's a fire hazard."
~ Eric Tiberius Duckman [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 20, 2014 - 52 comments

"I'm mad about you baby. Mad About You...."

"Did you just kiss me?"
"No."
"I didn't think so."
[more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 14, 2014 - 57 comments

"IT'S ALIVE, ALIVE!! ... I've always wanted to say that."

"It's an epic Urban Fantasy, a sci-fi thriller set Twenty Minutes into the Future, and a gritty crime-drama. And a tribute to William Shakespeare, where Puck, Oberon, Titania, and the Weird Sisters have prominent roles, and Macbeth kicks ass in a trenchcoat with a laser gun."
Plus, Star Trek alums lend their voices to many regular characters and guest stars. On the eve of its 20th anniversary, Gargoyles is now being offered legally on YouTube by Disney. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 12, 2014 - 51 comments

Taking Over Planet Earth

On February 2, 1981, an experimental New Romantic band from Birmingham released their first single. It was the beginning of the still-continuing, at times tumultuous, hugely successful tenure of Duran Duran. From 33 years ago: Planet Earth. B-side for the single was Late Bar, or in the US was To The Shore. Plus the Planet Earth (Night Version) extended remake.
This was the first of many, many singles from Duran Duran. [more inside]
posted by hippybear on Feb 2, 2014 - 64 comments

Dubbel Dutch: "I think we need more [musical] schizophrenics"

Marc Glasser started making electronic music when he was a teenager, and now produces music under the name Dubbel Dutch and releasing it most often on the eclectic Mixpak label, whose general sound often leans towards weird takes on reggae riddims. But as Glasser mentioned in a 2010 interview, he has been "opening up to music from everywhere. Cumbia, dancehall, kuduro, South African house, Dutch bubbling, Bmore club, Chicago juke and footwork*, old skool jungle and hardcore, garage, UK Funky and all that mingles with, or shares influences with, these sounds." What does this "schizophrenic" collage of musical styles sound like? Start with Self Help Riddims and the title track video, Self Help Riddim, then go from there. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 1, 2014 - 7 comments

An Observer's Guide To Pony Fanwork

How much My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fan content is there out there? LET'S FIND OUT. A few highlights:
What I Learned Today, morals to episodes
Twilight adjusts to a Season 3 plot development
Apogee, random, catchy
Celestia and Luna play Resident Evil 4 (repurposed from Two Best Friends)
The best of Sweetie Bot, from Friendship is Witchcraft
Slice of Life, a very well done fan Tumblr
How much more could there be? Well.... [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Jan 23, 2014 - 126 comments

The poetry of Hart Crane, from the American epic to personal belonging

Hart Crane was a poet, one who was known by and friends with other notable poets. The poet e. e. cummings claimed that "Crane’s mind was no bigger than a pin, but it didn’t matter; he was a born poet" (Google books preview). Tennessee Williams said he could "hardly understand a single line" but insisted he wanted to be buried at sea at the "point most nearly determined as the point at which Hart Crane gave himself back." Crane had his critics — Marianne Moore and Ezra Pound come to mind, and William Carlos Williams wrote "There is good there but it’s not for me" — but Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg used to read "The Bridge" together, John Berryman wrote one of his famous elegies on Crane and heavyweight Robert Lowell included his “Words for Hart Crane” in "Life Studies." Science/Fiction author, James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon) also wrote that "nobody seems to have noticed that Hart Crane really was the first space poet," quoting lines from his epic The Bridge in the story Mother in the Sky with Diamonds. Those are all words by other people, why not read a few from Crane? [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jan 19, 2014 - 22 comments

This post courtesy of the little green guys and the red jammies

♪ "Believe it or not, I'm walkin on air.
I never thought I could feel so free....
Flying away on a wing and a prayer,
Who could it be?
Believe it or not, it's just me."
[more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 7, 2014 - 88 comments

...and then "some clown invented the printed circuit."

During the 1950's, Wernher von Braun served as technical adviser for three space-related television films produced by Disney: Man in Space, Man and the Moon and Mars and Beyond. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 24, 2013 - 40 comments

Shall these bones live? shall these Bones live?

Settling in for a long winter's nap? In need of a memento mori to guard against the unbridled jollity of the season? Just want to explore the wonderful world of 3D scans, osteology, and bioarchaeology on the internet a little further? Sad that Santa probably isn't bringing you a T-Rex for Christmas? Well, just peak inside... [more inside]
posted by jetlagaddict on Dec 23, 2013 - 4 comments

Allez Cuisine!

"Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you what you are." -- Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 22, 2013 - 152 comments

"James Tiptree, Jr.: two decades of new wave science fiction (1968-88)

"We can go to science fiction for its sense of wonder, its power to take us to far-off places and future times. We can go to political fiction to understand injustice in our own time, to see what should change. We may go to poetry — epic or lyric, old or new — for what cannot change, for a sense of human limits, as well as for the music in its words. And if we want all those things at once — a sense of escape, a sense of injustice, a sense of mortality and an ear for language — we can read the stories of James Tiptree, Jr.," the reclusive, award-winning author whose vague biography started out in the Congo, routed through a period as a painter, then service as a photo intelligence officer in WWII, and finally a researcher and teacher of "soft" sciences before getting to writing science fiction. There was another facet that was only guessed at by some, dismissed by others: the fact that "Uncle Tip," and his reclusive friend, the former school teacher Racoona Sheldon, were the same person. And they were Alice Bradley Sheldon. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 20, 2013 - 31 comments

Would you believe...

What do you need to be an international CONTROL super spy fighting the forces of KAOS? A Shoe-Phone. A Cone of Silence. A Bulletproof Invisible Wall and a Laser Blazer. Then, and only then, can you Get Smart. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 16, 2013 - 52 comments

20 years of Essential mixes: a kaleidoscope of sounds

For younger fans of electronic music, the Essential Mix archive* is a time capsule that allows them to listen to sets that took place before they were born; for others, it’s a treasure chest of musical memories that allows them to re-visit the glory days. And what better way to celebrate 20 years than with a party? Rather than the usual broadcast from Tong’s studio, fans had the opportunity to join in on the fun at the Manchester Warehouse Project, with an absolutely stellar line-up pitting veterans of the scene back-to-back with rising stars. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 14, 2013 - 34 comments

A giant leap for mankind.... It's more like a stumble in the dark.

On September 13, 1999, nuclear waste from Earth stored on the far side of the Moon exploded in a catastrophic accident. The explosion knocked the Moon out of orbit and sent it, and the 311 inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, hurtling uncontrollably into space. Their subsequent trials and adventures were chronicled... in Space: 1999. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 12, 2013 - 62 comments

Where My Ladies At?

Recently Emily Graslie, of the fantastic natural history tumblr and youtube series TheBrainScoop, was asked a question about whether she had personally experienced sexism in her field. Her response is fucking amazing.
Inside is her goldmine of awesome female science educators online with channels that focus on Science Technology Engineering and Math. My work day is fucked.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 6, 2013 - 37 comments

"Caje, take the point"

TV's longest-running World War II drama, Combat! aired on ABC between 1962 and 1967. "It was really a collection of complex 50-minute movies. Salted with battle sequences, they follow [US Army King Company's travails during the invasion of France, starting with the landing at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 -- D-Day. It's] a gritty, ground-eye view of infantrymen trying to salvage their humanity and survive." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 2, 2013 - 33 comments

Mahna Mahna

♪ Why do we always come here?
I guess we'll never know.
It's like a kind of torture
To have to watch the show!
[more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 10, 2013 - 120 comments

"October is a fine and dangerous season in America"

Happy Political Clusterf*ck Day (U.S.)! In one corner: the first federal government shutdown since 1996, born of the House GOP/Tea Party faction's crusade to delay, defund, and destroy Obamacare (and the Democratic Senate and President's resolve to not do that). "Continuing resolutions" have ping-ponged between the two houses, fighting over language to cancel healthcare reform (plus a few other items, such as the implementation of Mitt Romney's entire economic agenda). National parks are closed, contractors are hamstrung, and 800,000 federal workers furloughed until Speaker Boehner drops the "Hastert Rule" and passes a bill the other branches can agree to. In the other corner, heedless of the chaos (though not without glitches of its own): the official rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its state insurance exchanges. The portal at Healthcare.gov is your one-stop shop for browsing, comparing, and purchasing standardized, regulated insurance coverage with premium rebates, guaranteed coverage, and expanded Medicaid for the poor (in some states). A crazy day, overall -- but peanuts compared to what might happen if the debt ceiling is breached in 16 days. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Oct 1, 2013 - 2207 comments

This ain't chemistry. This is Art.

With the momentous series finale of Breaking Bad just hours away, fans of the show are hungry for something, anything to wile away the time before the epic conclusion tonight. So why not kick back and chew the fat with your fellow MeFites with the help of a little tool I like to call "The Periodic Table of Breaking Bad." [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Sep 29, 2013 - 974 comments

RETROREPORT - The truth now about the big stories then

How often does a great story dominate the headlines, only to be dropped from the news cycle? How often do journalists tell us of a looming danger or important discovery – only to move quickly to the next new thing? What really happened? How did these events change us? And what are the lingering consequences that may affect our society to this day? These are the questions we are answering at Retro Report, an innovative documentary news organization launched in 2013 as a timely online counterweight to today’s 24/7 news cycle. Combining documentary techniques with shoe-leather reporting, we peel back the layers of some of the most perplexing news stories of our past with the goal of encouraging the public to think more critically about current events and the media in ~10 minute segments. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Sep 10, 2013 - 15 comments

The circuitous histories of hamburgers and ketchup

The history of the hamburger could be a relatively short story, or one spanning centuries and continents, depending on how far you disassemble the modern hamburger. If you look for the origins of ground meat between two pieces of bread, that's something American, but where and when exactly is the question. But how did we get the ground meat patty? You can thank the Mongols and Kublai Khan, who brought their ground meat to Russia. Oh, and don't forget the fish sauce! [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 19, 2013 - 35 comments

"The story of Grizzly Adams is big and powerful. Beautiful!"

"Now, my friend Adams was accused of a crime he didn't commit, so he escaped into the mountains, leaving behind the only life that he ever knew." In 1977, three years after the popular movie The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams introduced the story of John "Grizzly" Adams to the public, a TV show of the same name premiered. [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 8, 2013 - 45 comments

OK. 3, 2, 1. Let's Jam!

The year is 2071. Humanity has spread across the solar system and the Space Police have reinstated the bounty system of the Old West: catch wanted fugitives alive, deliver them to the cops and get paid. Cowboy Bebop chronicles the adventures (and misadventures) of a group of bounty hunters as they try to catch bad guys and make a living. [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 7, 2013 - 153 comments

Classic Albums, covering 3 decades of popular music

Classic Albums is a rock and pop documentary series, broadcast and on DVD, starting with The Making of Sgt. Pepper. There were 38 more albums covered, plus five more in the Netherlands... [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 1, 2013 - 33 comments

Captain Harlock: "The sea of space is my sea"

"Few characters are as memorable as he: tall, black-cloaked, face scarred, eyepatch over his right eye, and ever-ready with his saber-rifle. He is the epitome of Leiji (Reiji) Matsumoto's male hero, an SF version of the wild-West lone gunslinger." The Space Pirate Captain Harlock is coming back in a new CG movie, a decade since his escapades were last animated, and back with Toei Animation, who first brought his one-eyed scowl to the small screen 35 years ago. If this is all news to you, read on for more of the mysterious man who fight's for no one's sake. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 3, 2013 - 21 comments

They were your Joey Ramone

Sleater-Kinney's lastest show (The "S" is the introduction. Audio here.) [more inside]
posted by Going To Maine on Jan 28, 2013 - 39 comments

R_co's archive of EDM mixes on Soundcloud: "It's good to share"

There is a universe of recorded DJ mixes to sort through, enough to keep you entertained and dancing for years. Souncloud user R_co fills a pocket of this cosmos with thousands of mixes and some live shows to stream and download, spanning styles and decades, from Bob Marley and the Wailers live in 1975, to a Shep Pettibone Mastermix Danceparty from 1983, Mark Farina live in Los Angeles, 1996, or Masters at Work live in Miami at WMC, 2003, and Carl Craig in Ibiza, 2012. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jan 12, 2013 - 25 comments

"You can't get un-famous. You can get infamous, but you can't get un-famous."

James Lipton interviews Dave Chappelle. Dave Chappelle interviews James Lipton. And while we're at it.... [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 17, 2012 - 48 comments

Deciphering the Tools of Nature’s Zombies

Deciphering the Tools of Nature’s Zombies: The ability of parasites to alter the behaviour of their hosts fascinates both scientists and non-scientists alike. One reason that this topic resonates with so many is that it touches on core philosophical issues such as the existence of free will. If the mind is merely a machine, then it can be controlled by any entity that understands the code and has access to the machinery. This special issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology highlights some of the best-understood examples of parasite-induced changes in host brain and behaviour, encompassing both invertebrate and vertebrate hosts and micro- and macro-parasites. Full issue annotated inside: [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 9, 2012 - 13 comments

The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos, to know itself.

Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 3, 2012 - 46 comments

Coronet Instructional Films

From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 1, 2012 - 41 comments

The players in a mutualistic symbiosis: insects, bacteria, viruses, and virulence genes.

One of the many problems farmers of various kinds of legumes need to deal with is the pea aphid. They reproduce incredibly fast and live by sucking the sap out of the plants, an electron micrograph of one in action. However, while they are terrifying parasites of legumes, they have their own yet more horrific parasites, a parasitoid wasp. Here is a really nice close up picture of one doing its thing, a video of the act, and here is a brain meltingly horrific video of a dissection of the mummified aftermath 8 days later. Essentially, these wasps deposit their eggs in a pea aphid and the growing larva feeds on it, developing there for about a week, and then consuming the host from the inside out like a Xenomorph. When it’s done, the wasp larva dries the aphid’s cuticle into a papery brittle shell and an adult wasp emerges from the aphid mummy. Legume farmers love them, and you can even order their mummies online these days. However, farmers noticed that the wasps didn't work as effectively on all of the aphids, and so researchers went to work figuring out why. It turns out that all aphids have a primary bacterial endosymbiont living inside their cells, in addition to and just like a mitochondria, and that many have some combination of five other secondary endosymbionts. Interestingly, two of those other five, Hamiltonella defensa and Serratia symbiotica have been shown to confer varying levels of resistance to the parasitoid wasp, allowing the aphid to survive infection. However, it turns out that there is yet one more layer to this story, [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 22, 2012 - 50 comments

Provirophages and transpovirons as the diverse mobilome of giant viruses

Provirophages and transpovirons as the diverse mobilome of giant viruses
Abstract: A distinct class of infectious agents, the virophages1 that infect giant viruses of the Mimiviridae family, has been recently described. Here we report the simultaneous discovery of a giant virus of Acanthamoeba polyphaga (Lentille virus) that contains an integrated genome2 of a virophage (Sputnik 2), and a member of a previously unknown class of mobile genetic elements3, the transpovirons4. The transpovirons are linear DNA elements of ∼7 kb [kilobases]5 that encompass six to eight protein-coding genes, two of which are homologous6 to virophage genes. Fluorescence7 in situ hybridization8 showed that the free form of the transpoviron replicates within the giant virus factory and accumulates in high copy numbers inside giant virus particles, Sputnik 2 particles, and amoeba cytoplasm. Analysis of deep-sequencing data showed that the virophage and the transpoviron can integrate9 in nearly any place in the chromosome of the giant virus host and that, although less frequently, the transpoviron can also be linked to the virophage chromosome. In addition, integrated fragments of transpoviron DNA were detected in several giant virus and Sputnik genomes. Analysis of 19 Mimivirus strains revealed three distinct transpovirons associated with three subgroups of Mimiviruses. The virophage, the transpoviron, and the previously identified self-splicing introns10 and inteins11 constitute the complex, interconnected mobilome12 of the giant viruses and are likely to substantially contribute to interviral gene transfer.
[Full Text PDF] and two explanations in English [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 16, 2012 - 28 comments

The Proclaimers, a lot more than I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)

They're best known for one song: I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles), as featured in Benny and Joon in 1993, and though the identical twin brothers faded from the public eye in the US, 500 Miles was lovingly parodied by Homer Simpson in 2001, and the brothers appeared on Family Guy in 2006. That song was featured in Comic Relief 2007, and that rendition was the number 1 song in the UK for three weeks. Given this focus on a single song that was first released in 1988, you might want mark The Proclaimers as a one-hit wonder and leave it at that. But David Pollock, writing for The Guardian, wants you to reconsider: The Proclaimers are a lot better than you probably remember. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 25, 2012 - 72 comments

Jan Svankmajer: "Succumb totally to your obsessions; Keep interchanging dream for reality and vice versa"

"Jan Švankmajer is a major figure of contemporary East European animation whose surrealistic, often macabre work owes more to the nightmarish visions of Kafka and Buñuel than to the sunny daydreams of Walt Disney and his creative progeny. Noted for investing otherwise ordinary objects with ominous overtones, Švankmajer reached his widest audience to date with a feature-length adaptation of Lewis Carroll's "Alice" (1988) which blended animated and live-action footage--a technique he had earlier used to hair-raising effect in "Down to the Cellar" (1983)." -- TMC. Often credited with influencing the Brothers Quay, they hadn't actually seen his work until relatively late in their careers, as they mentioned in an introduction to their documentary on Švankmajer (YT playlist). More of Švankmajer inside. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 23, 2012 - 21 comments

Annotated Filmography of Charlie Chaplin

Director and/or star of many of the greatest films ever made including The Great Dictator (2:05:16) [Globe scene and the eternally goosebump providing Final speech], The Immigrant (20:01), The Gold Rush (1:11:49), City Lights (1:22:40), Modern Times (1:27:01), and Monsieur Verdoux (1:59:03), Charlie Chaplin's movies have entered the public domain in most countries. Below the fold is an annotated list of all 82 of his official short and feature films in chronological order, as well as several more, with links to where you can watch them; it's not like you had work to do right? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Sep 17, 2012 - 35 comments

High Weirdness By Mail

"I guess it started for me when, as a young sci-fi movie fan, I did a fanzine at age 12 to 15... that’s when I learned how relatively cheap and easy it was to self-publish, at least for a small circle of weirdos. Later, after comics went up to 50¢, I started collecting stuff equally weird but much cheaper than comic books: kook literature." - Rev. Ivan Stang

You may know of the Church of the SubGenius, that parody religion that worships the almighty "Bob" and was a fixture of MTV and Night Flights back in the day. But do you know of its SECRET ORIGINS? Co-founder Ivan Stang corresponded with hundreds of "mad prophets, crackpots, kooks & true visionaries," from sincere cults to winking charlatans to utter nutjobs to hate groups to independent artists and musicians, with some respected names thrown in, and synthesized them into a half-joking, half-serious celebration of the kook spirit. These days of course the forward-thinking crackpot looking for sheep goes directly to the internet. But while it lasted Stang and co-authors Mike Gunderloy, Waver Forest and Mark Johnston collaborated to document this vanished scene in the legendary book HIGH WEIRDNESS BY MAIL. (All links within may quickly lead someplace NSFW by the nature of the beast.) [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Aug 27, 2012 - 133 comments

Camel Corps of the US Army: bringing a bit of the Middle East to the Southwest

The U.S. Camel Corps was a short-lived experiment run by the U.S. Army before the Civil War, the result of two decades of support for importing and utilizing the foreign pack animal by George H. Crosman and some of his friends and colleagues. More than 70 camels were brought from the Middle East and southern Europe, along with 5 camel drovers from Greece and Turkey, arriving in Texas in 1856. A select few of that bunch made the trek across "unexplored territory" from El Paso to the Colorado River, with camels faring the best among the group of men, horses, and mules. When James Buchanan became president in 1857, there were numerous changes in command, including the commander of the Army in Texas, who "was outraged when he discovered a herd of camels under his command." By the time the Civil War started, the Camel Corps was dissolved and forgotten, but both the animals and the drovers would leave their mark in the West. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 23, 2012 - 23 comments

G B S

A girl upon the shore did ask a favour of the sea;
"Return my blue eyed sailor boy safely back to me.
Forgive me if I ask too much, I will not ask for more,
but I shall weep until he sleeps safe upon the shore."
For nearly 20 years, Newfoundland group Great Big Sea have been creating acoustic Celtic folk-rock covers and interpretations of traditional Newfoundland and Labrador sea shanties, folk, fishing and party songs, which draw from the island's rich 500-year-old multicultural (Irish, English, Scottish and French) heritage. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 23, 2012 - 49 comments

Orbital, 23 years after Chime

They were a couple of blokes from a small city in in England who started out messing around with instruments. Paul played the guitar and drums, and Phil the saxophone, but both were interested in electronic music by the likes of Kraftwerk. Phil also liked hip-hop, and Paul got into acid house in the late 1980s. One afternoon, Paul slapped together a happy little song based on a sample from a now-forgotten instrumental cover version of some pop hit, and called the little ditty Chime. Even before it was pressed on vinyl, DJs were asking for it, and Orbital was born. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 12, 2012 - 64 comments

Ishi, last of the Yahi: of two worlds, and in three centuries

Throughout the west, prospectors and settlers clashed with native people, diminishing the populations of tribes greatly reduced by disease. By the 1850s, it was believed that all Native Americans were "civilized," before those in the young field of anthropology were able to record first-hand accounts of native people in their own elements. In 1853, a lone native woman was found on a remote island off the coast of southern California, but she contracted dysentery and died after she had been on the mainland for only seven weeks. Then in 1911, a bedragled native man was found in a farmer's slaughter house corral in rural Northern California. He was the last of his people, and he lived to share a glimpse of an ancient way of life, in his five years spent living amongst anthropologists, doctors, and linguists. He was Ishi, the last Yahi (Snagfilm; also on Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Instant). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 8, 2012 - 20 comments

Skinning: Computer Interface Customization

Many people are familiar with computer case modifications, thanks to the photogenic nature of mods. On the software side, most operating systems feature some potential for customization, though this is often limited to tweaking the colors and sounds. For some, this isn't enough. Enter "skinning," the casual term for interface customization. To a degree, the history of the media player Winamp (YT, 7:03; transcript with pictures) mirrors the history of skinning. From a version 0.2, a visually dull app in June 1997, to easy user customization in version 2 in September 1998, and the complexly customizable Winamp3 in August 2002. Wired captured something of the excitement at its peak in an article from 2000, before computing began shifting to more closed devices. Now approaching a post-WIMP (windows, icons, menus and a pointer) era, where skinning is done with alternative launchers. But for those still using traditional computers of one sort or another, it's not too late to modify your interface. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 17, 2012 - 70 comments

From Days of Long Ago...

"From days of long ago... from uncharted regions of the universe, comes a legend: the legend of Voltron, Defender of the Universe!" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 2, 2012 - 30 comments

KUOW, KCMU and KEXP: a brief history of college(type) radio from University of Washington

KEXP 90.3 FM is a Seattle, WA-based radio station, officially "a service of University of Washington," but it's more complex than that. The first University of Washington radio station started broadcasting in 1952. Five decades, a few station organizational shifts, plus three call letter and frequency changes later, KEXP was (re)born in 2001. Along the way, the station spread the sound of 1990s Seattle indie rock, started streaming "CD quality" MP3 audio of their broadcast in 2000, and they have an ever-growing collection of recordings of live in-station performances, including over 2,000 videos on YouTube. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 28, 2012 - 35 comments

You know what every kitchen needs? A Bloonderbooss or a Boomashootn, and Swedish Chef shows us why.

The Swedish Chef (Muppet Wiki) is the incomprehensible preparer of foodstuffs for The Muppet Show. A rather literal variation of the Live-Hand Muppet concept, the Swedish Chef is a humanoid character, with human hands rather than gloves. An annotated list of every televised appearance of the Swedish Chef is after the fold... Børk! Børk! Børk! [Click here to view the thread translated fully into Mock Swedish] [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Mar 16, 2012 - 45 comments

There are neither beginnings or endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

"It all started with wondering what it was really like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you are the savior of mankind. Ten years of thinking about that, and I began writing." He was James Oliver Rigney, Jr., a Vietnam vet who went on to get a degree in physics from The Citadel, and was then a nuclear engineer for the US Navy. He put all that behind him and started writing a variety of fantasy novels under various aliases. As Reagan O'Neal, he wrote the Fallon trilogy of historical fantasy in the early 1980s, which he followed up with a quick series of Conan novels as Robert Jordan. Under this pen name, he spent a decade planning and four years writing The Eye of the World, the first book in The Wheel of Time, an epic storyline in a fantasy world. Jordan had planned out the broad story arc from the beginning to the "final scene in the final book," but he died before his epic tale could be completed. A young author, Brandon Sanderson, was chosen by Rigney's wife and editor, Harriet McDougal, to complete the portions of the tale left as a loose collection of notes. One last book became three, and just last month, the release date of the final book was set: January 8, 2013, in the final month of the Year of the Dragon. Now that the end is in sight, you might feel the pull of nostalgia to finish the series, or maybe you're interested to see what all this fuss is about. With around 11,000 pages, 635 chapters, and more than four million words, it's a complex, daunting world to (re)enter. Fear not, the internet is here to help. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 10, 2012 - 66 comments

Animating Medicine

Bioanimation companies like XVIVO, Hybrid Medical (Previously), Random42, Biolucid, Argosy Medical, and BioDigital have been doing beautiful work for hire, freely available to watch. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Jan 23, 2012 - 10 comments

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