Why read lengthy articles on the history of Atari when you can hear stories first-hand? Hear Nolan Bushnell (and a few others) tell all about how a little company named Syzygy became Atari, in clips both new(ish) and old; tune in for four episodes of Once Upon Atari, featuring Atari staff reminiscing about the good times and bad; and visit Alamogordo, New Mexico, home of rocket sled land-speed records and the grave of Ham, the first chimp in space, with Zak Penn as he digs for the truth behind the legend of the buried E.T. cartridges in Atari: Game Over with fans and Howard Scott Warshaw, the man who made the Atari E.T. game in five weeks. [more inside]
On February 1, 1968, the Penn Central railroad was created by the merger of the two largest railroads in the eastern United States, the Pennsylvania Railroad, long lauded as the "Standard Railroad of the World", and the New York Central Railroad, long famous for its passenger trains such as the 20th Century Limited, with its Dreyfuss-designed Hudson locomotives. [more inside]
The Velveteen Rabbit read by Meryl Streep (24 min. 39 secs.); a shorter, more official source of the video is at Meryl Streep Info blog, with promotional material. Online edition of the 1922 book by Margery Williams, complete with original illustrations by William Nicholson, at the Digital Library at UPenn. [more inside]
The drought in California has brought about a number of things, from exposing part of Mormon Island, an old mining town that has partially emerged from Folsom Lake (news coverage clip; aerial view of a re-emerged bridge with overly dramatic music; a tour of the exposed ruins), to being good news for gold prospectors. But if there's too much of a crowd in the Sierra Nevada foothills, you can always dig for gold in New York City (alt: YouTube), in the cracks of Midtown's Diamond District with Raffi Stepanian.
Gaze into the Past ... the Present ... the Future ... with psychic (and occasional comedian), Emily Heller, as she delves into the cards for Reggie Watts, Kal Penn, John Mulaney, Kenan Thompson, and Janeane Garofalo.
"During his days as Harvard’s influential president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot made a frequent assertion: If you were to spend just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, a quantity that could fit on a five-foot shelf, you could give yourself a proper liberal education. Publisher P. F. Collier and Son loved the idea and asked Eliot to compile and edit the right collection of works. The result: a 51-volume series of classic works from world literature published in 1909 called Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf, which would later be called The Harvard Classics." (Via) [more inside]
Coursera - free, online, introductory- to upper-undergraduate level classes in a wide variety of subjects, led by instructors from Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and the University of Pennsylvania
After three years of investigation, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office has charged former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky with 40 counts related to sexual abuse of young boys. The disturbing grand jury report can be read here. Two top school officials have been charged with perjury and failure to report in connection with the case, and University President Graham Spanier offers unequivocal support of his colleagues. More recommended reading: Putting loyalty to the many, the program, in front of the victimization of even the one, a child.
The Beer Archaeologist. "Biomolecular archaeologist" Dr. Patrick McGovern has unearthed millennia-old alcohol recipes and ancient medicinals, "by analyzing residues in ancient pottery. Now he's working with brewer Sam Calagione, (of Discovery Channel's Brew Masters, (autoplaying video)) whose pub Dogfish Head serves up beers based on recipes that are thousands of years old." (Via) [more inside]
Arthur Penn, the director of Bonnie and Clyde, Little Big Man, The Miracle Worker, and Night Moves, has died of congestive heart failure one day after his 88th birthday.
Often dismissed as a failed experiment, this oddity from Arthur Penn is a constantly surprising and enigmatic classic. Two years ahead of Bonnie and Clyde, this New Hollywood prototype is ragged and frantic, a skewed but thrilling attempt to rewrite established narrative form. [more inside]
"The quest to undercut fashion’s standards of perfection, and to find beauty in the disdained, overlooked or overripe, runs throughout Mr. Penn’s career. In an otherwise pristine still life of food, he included a house fly, and in a 1959 close-up, he placed a beetle in a model’s ear." So long, Irving Penn.
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has put 675 reels of archival 16 mm film online via the Internet Archive. Most of the film is unedited, and stems either from Museum research, or was donated by interested amateurs. Much of it is silent, reflecting the technology of the day. One highlight are the four surviving reels of the long-running TV show 'What in the World" (look for the episode starring Vincent Price), but the archive is full of other hidden gems, such as the 1950s archaeological expedition to Tikal, a 1940 film "A 1000 Mile Road Trip Across America", and Glimpses of Life Among the Catawba and Cherokee Indians of the Carolinas (1927). The films are downloadable in various formats, including MPEG2, Ogg Video, and 512Kb MPEG4. Happy browsing! via.
An oldie, but apropros for Earth Day. Join Penn & Teller in banning the nefarious Dihydrogen Monoxide!
In 1989 Rob Pike, Penn & Teller, and Dennis Ritchie (one of the creators of UNIX), prank Arno Penzias, with a funky speech recognition demo.
Penn econ professor pleads guilty to killing wife. With last year's child porn and now murder, it looks like the Wharton professor felony hat trick is two-thirds complete. (It's there if we expand it to the whole University.)
Meet Mark Penn. Pollster to Hillary Clinton and Corporate America. Penn came up with terms like "Soccer Moms" and "Office Park Dads", and if you're reading metafilter you're probably an e-fluential (you can take a quiz to find out. And don't forget about the momfluentials! Oh, and remember, when talking about the war, don't ever use the word mistake. Hillary Isn't)
There's been plenty of Bullshit! on MetaFilter before, and now there's more: Boy Scouts [1, 2, 3] ("Duty to God ahead of country, others, and self, is the credo of suicide bombers."); Wal-Mart Hatred ("Wal-Mart is one of the great anti-poverty programmes in the country."); Circumcision ("By the end of this programme, one of these three will drop their pants and show us the restored foreskin on their penis."); and The Best ("Stupid? How many of you are searching for it on the web right now?").
"After our transparently bogus story and our impossibly shitty video appeared on the website... we received a flood of messages from big-shot bigfoot hunters who were dying to find out about [the] footage. Our plan was working." So, Penn and Teller faked the Sonoma bigfoot footage. But only the BFRO fell for it. Conveniently, they deleted the evidence of that. With so many sasquatch enthusiasts expressing doubt about the video when it was released, can our favorite Libertarian and mime really use it to prove that bigfoot is bullshit?
"A Helpful Hand" - Penn & Teller call Bullshit! on the "bestselling book in the world," the Holy Bible. (link is to entire episode approx 29mins - *language, flash)
this i believe: there is no god. the inimitable, outspoken penn jillette (of penn and teller fame) takes a hell of a brave stand in today's climate of blind faith.
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Federal V.I.P. Penn Gillette almost gets his "crank grabbed." Not quite as concerning as the pregnant woman who got her breasts groped by security at the airport but it's an interesting read.