January 31, 2010

The Pershing Chinese

After a fruitless hunt for Pancho Villa, General Pershing and his forces withdrew from northern Mexico in early 1917. But, "[w]hat to do with 300 Chinese who have associated themselves with the punitive expedition?" [more inside]
posted by SpringAquifer at 10:53 PM PST - 18 comments

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences is a 1960 essay by Eugene Wigner. Via Steve Strogatz.
posted by jjray at 10:30 PM PST - 30 comments

50 Equal Sized States

A proposal to redraw state lines so that there are 50 states with approximately equal population.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:48 PM PST - 143 comments

"Mad Jack" Churchill

In May of 1940, "Mad Jack" Churchill became the only man in WWII to record a kill with a longbow. [more inside]
posted by Upton O'Good at 9:26 PM PST - 41 comments

The Next Big Thing(tm): Metal Foam!

Afsaneh Rabiei has created a new steel foam and this stuff is going to be everywhere within our lifetimes. In the article: "inserting two pieces of her composite metal foam behind the bumper of a car traveling 28 mph, the impact would feel the same to passengers as impact traveling at only 5 mph"...at 1/3rd the weight of solid steel.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 8:51 PM PST - 39 comments


In GNILLEY, one must yell loudly to destroy enemies and remove obstacles. "They die faster the angrier I am," states the developer, Radix.

GNILLEY is one of the products of this weekend's Global Game Jam, 48 hours of largely sleepless, non-stop gamemaking. Via TIGSource.
posted by ignignokt at 6:48 PM PST - 15 comments

Space Marines And Love Story

Remember the guy who did a massive 7 part review of Phantom Menace? Well he's done Avatar now (1, 2). (NSFW, but there's less serial killer jokes)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:43 PM PST - 77 comments

They may not have pants, but they have plenty of boyfriends.

"Miss average college girl (1941) tells the maximum and minimum size of her wardrobe." The New York Library scanned a page from the September 1941 issue of Design for Living: The Magazine for Young Moderns to compare the highest and lowest numbers of a given item in women's wardrobes by college. [more inside]
posted by emilyd22222 at 6:25 PM PST - 50 comments

Make it work.

On the 15th of every month, from noon to 6pm, ceramics artist Michael Swaine sets up a sewing machine in San Francisco's Tenderloin and repairs clothing for strangers. No charge. He's also been known to darn other peoples' socks in London. He has much of interest to say. [more inside]
posted by IndigoJones at 3:49 PM PST - 27 comments

She can move out of her car and into your home for a mere $95!

In the 1980s, American Girl dolls became an obsession for many young girls. The early options were limited, but the "family" of dolls has expanded to have Native American, New Mexican, African-American, and Jewish girls represented. Reaching across to a new un-tapped demographic: American Girl has released a homeless doll. Gwen Thompson, the homeless girl, retails for $95.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:45 PM PST - 109 comments

RIP Kage Baker

Science fiction writer Kage Baker has passed away after struggling with cancer. Writer of the critically acclaimed Company series and winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Award, she died this morning in the arms of her sisters.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:31 PM PST - 46 comments

Kill Them With Kindness

God Hates Signs: Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church band-of-bigots showed up in San Francisco the other day to protest at the headquarters of Twitter. (Why? "Twitter should be used to tell the punks of doomed America that God hates you!"). They were met by counter-protesters, well versed in the dark arts of snark. Hilarity ensues.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:18 PM PST - 123 comments

Boo hoo

Funny. Touching. Intrusive. I wish I could let myself be half as vulnerable as this women. She's a great sport for allowing this site to exist.
posted by grumblebee at 12:47 PM PST - 178 comments

American declinism

The End of Influence - the latest in a long series documenting the US' relative decline (esp wrt China 1 2 3 4 5) Brad DeLong and Stephen Cohen reflect on what has brought us to our past, but now fast-fading glory: "Roosevelt's strategy [entering WW2] was to make Britain broke before American taxpayers' money was committed in any way to the fight against Hitler." Before delving into our present predicament, however, it might also be useful to briefly consider some of the lessons from Bretton Woods and what the wealth of nations is really built upon.
posted by kliuless at 12:34 PM PST - 39 comments

Tell me your Story

A student's song to her parents (SLYT)
posted by infini at 11:25 AM PST - 32 comments

20 ans

Capa TV. One for the francophones. The French television production agency Capa (no relation) is celebrating its 20th anniversary with excerpts from its best documentaries along with commentary from the reporters that made them. I particularly recommend two that have nothing in common : Vivre et Mourir à Sarajevo (1993) and Les Chouchous du Camping (1991). But be warned, navigation is annoyingly difficult.
posted by Lezzles at 9:49 AM PST - 5 comments

Are The Old Ways Better?

This development project may not be meeting its own expectations. Here is a look at a sustainable alternative to conventional development in the Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia, as shown in the film, A Thousand Suns, from the Global Oneness Project. previously
posted by Xurando at 9:35 AM PST - 5 comments


Many visitors and residents of New York City have long been befuddled by the emergency brake hanging in each NYC subway car. Signs indicate that one should not use the emergency brake during many emergencies- Fire, medical problem or need for police. But then, when should we use the emergency brake? (vimeo)
posted by brevator at 7:17 AM PST - 111 comments

great teaching takes true grit

What makes a great teacher? Analyzing more than twenty years of data, Teach for America has found that great teachers had trained in their subject areas rather than in education, and had high "life satisfaction." They also demonstrated five tendencies: they
"constantly reevaluate what they are doing... they avidly recruited students and their families into the process; they maintained focus, ensuring that everything they did contributed to student learning; they planned exhaustively and purposefully—for the next day or the year ahead—by working backward from the desired outcome; and they worked relentlessly, refusing to surrender to the combined menaces of poverty, bureaucracy, and budgetary shortfalls."
This last trait is measured by the Grit Scale, which has been shown to predict good outcomes in both teachers and West Point cadets. (Do you have grit?) [more inside]
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:07 AM PST - 133 comments

The Jihadist Next Door

"I hear bullets, I dodge mortars, I hear nasheeds" — Islamic songs — "and play soccer. Sometimes I live in the bush with camels, sometimes I live the five-star life. Sometimes I walk for miles in the terrible heat with no water, sometimes I ride in extremely slick cars. Sometimes I’m chased by the enemy, sometimes I chase him! I have hatred, I have love," he went on. "It’s the best life on earth!"
How did a popular kid from a small town in Alabama wind up connected to Al Qaeda? The Jihadist Next Door [SLNYT]
posted by billysumday at 6:55 AM PST - 24 comments

Now bons broaken all is well all in Love

Timothy Dexter was an 18th Century American entrepreneur from Newburyport, MA who made his money in fairly baffling ways. He successfully sold coal in Newcastle and shipped stray cats and mittens to the Caribbean at a sizable profit. Self-described as "First in the East, First in the West, and the Greatest Philosopher in the Western World," he is listed in an entry in the notably hoax-filled Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography, but NPR believes that he existed. [more inside]
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:40 AM PST - 16 comments

Change Your Mind Change Your Brain

Change your mind, change your brain - Matthieu Ricard talks about creating the inner conditions for authentic happiness, and the effects of meditation on the brain. [more inside]
posted by MetaMonkey at 3:45 AM PST - 17 comments

Minimal origami

Minimal origami is paper folding with just one fold. A single fold in a piece of paper is enough to make a swan or an interesting curve. Notably, Paul Jackson has made beautiful one crease origami structures.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:34 AM PST - 16 comments


Will female directors break through the glass ceiling? Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) has just won the Director's Guild of America Award for Best Director - a first for any female director. It's a good indicator for Oscar. But can she win against a strong field? [more inside]
posted by crossoverman at 1:32 AM PST - 49 comments

Wow, I didn't know he was in Beastmaster. . .

78 year-old American actor Rip Torn got drunk and tried to rob a bank last night. [more inside]
posted by bardic at 12:45 AM PST - 107 comments

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