434 MetaFilter comments by xtian (displaying 1 through 50)

The two flat “blades” of a feather on either side of the main shaft are called vanes. In living birds that fly, the feathers that arise from the hand, known as the primaries, have asymmetrical vanes: the leading vane is narrower than the trailing one. It stood to reason that vane asymmetry was important for flight. And because fossils of Microraptor and its kin show asymmetrical feathers, some researchers argued, these animals must have been able to fly.

Recent work by flight biomechanics experts, including me, has overturned this received wisdom about feather vane asymmetry. Our research shows that feather shape is largely optimized to allow the feather to twist and bend in sophisticated ways that greatly enhance flight performance. Merely being anatomically asymmetrical doesn’t mean much. What matters is that the feather is aerodynamically asymmetrical, and for this to be the case, the vane asymmetry must be at least three to one—that is, the trailing blade needs to be three times wider than the leading one. Below this ratio, the feather twists in a destabilizing rather than stabilizing way during flight.
Scientific American: Why Feathers Are One of Evolution’s Cleverest Inventions [includes helpful illustrations -- and some truly stunning 4K+ photography]
comment posted at 5:56 AM on Apr-19-24

"I was at a party in space with creatures of all kinds and shapes you can imagine, and this was the music playing, the vibe was unbelievable. Influenced by the 1970s space disco, with its synthesizers, funky grooves, and a certain psychedelia, the space DJs know what they're doing, it's time to listen to the voice that comes from beyond, or rather, from the infinite and beyond." COSMIC GROOVES - A Funky, Disco & House Grooves MIX from Outer Space [2h]
comment posted at 5:08 AM on Mar-26-24

But the underlying online vs. real life opposition is harder to dispel. Here it is attached to consumerist identities, like an exploded version of the chain stores vs. mom-and-pop stores opposition from the No Logo era. There is a genuine, authentic way to make a spectacle of the self, but it needs to tap into a rooted habitus and recondite practice (a “context”), and not simply reflect haphazard free play with readily available cultural signifiers (mere “content”). That is, the correct and real self is rooted in distinction (in Bordieu’s sense) and not differentiation. The internet is supposedly undermining the kind of distinction that should matter and proliferating the kinds of differences that are superficial rather than culturally binding. from Spacing the cans by Rob Horning
comment posted at 8:44 AM on Mar-24-24

Surprising detail is a near universal property of getting up close and personal with reality. You can see this everywhere if you look. For example, you’ve probably had the experience of doing something for the first time, maybe growing vegetables or using a Haskell package for the first time, and being frustrated by how many annoying snags there were. Then you got more practice and then you told yourself ‘man, it was so simple all along, I don’t know why I had so much trouble’. We run into a fundamental property of the universe and mistake it for a personal failing.
Blogger John Salvatier talks stair carpentry, boiling water, the difference between invisible and transparent detail, and how paying closer attention to the beguiling complexity of everyday life can help you open your mind and break out of mental ruts and blind spots.
comment posted at 4:51 AM on Mar-20-24

I was on the phone, asking for a theoretical quote to reupholster a five-year-old or so midrange sofa, which cost more than $1,000 when new. That task, the upholsterer told me, would run me several times more than the couch was originally worth, and, owing to its construction, it was now worth nowhere near its sale price. The upholsterer proceeded to lecture me, in a helpful, passionate, and sometimes kindly manner, about how sofas made in the past 15 years or so are absolute garbage, constructed of sawdust compressed and bonded with cheap glue, simple brackets in place of proper joinery, substandard spring design, flimsy foam, and a lot of staples. Until recently, people had no reason to suspect that a $1,200 sofa would be anything less than high quality; the vast majority of the stuff in stores was fairly well made, and you could sit on it to test it. Today, not so much. [...] A combination of factors, including world-altering shifts in labor, manufacturing, transportation logistics, and middle-class American aesthetics, has created a grim scene: a two-year-old, $1,200 Instagram sofa—busted, on the curb, waiting for the large-item trash pickup or an enterprising scavenger who doesn’t realize just how shitty this thing is.
Dwell.com asks: Why Are (Most) Sofas So Bad?
comment posted at 8:54 AM on Mar-15-24

What do King Arthur, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Aragorn and Paul Atreides have in common? Call it Magic Dick Theory. (Although on closer inspection, maybe not Paul so much.) The Ringer offers up a "psychoanalytic reading of canonical chosen-one narratives in fantasy and science fiction."
comment posted at 10:28 AM on Mar-3-24

Apple announces Murderbot series starring Alexander Skarsgård. The series is based on Martha Wells' series of novellas and novels about Murderbot, a cyborg piece of security equipment who, after maybe probably definitely maybe murdering a bunch of its clients for reasons it can't remember, hacks its own governor module to free itself so that it can endlessly watch The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon and other media whenever its clients aren't killing each other or getting eaten by fauna.
comment posted at 5:43 AM on Dec-15-23
comment posted at 4:22 PM on Dec-17-23

Published in The Autopian by an adjuster who agreed to write on the condition of anonymity. "In short, modern cars have so many complex components that they are very expensive to repair even with what looks like light damage. As the adjuster, you are under pressure to lock up as many claims as possible in the day to meet the company’s expectations. Does it look broken? Replace. Is it likely to be broken behind that part? Replace. When the software tells you you’ve hit the 75% or higher threshold of the value for the car, you wrap it up. Bam, the car is now deemed totaled by the insurance company."
comment posted at 7:09 PM on Nov-16-23

Bram Moolenaar, the Dutch software engineer, creator and maintainer of long-lived text editor Vim, has died.
comment posted at 5:10 AM on Aug-9-23

Flaco, the escaped Central Park Zoo owl, proving he can survive outside enclosure. When he first escaped from his vandalized enclosure at New York City's Central Park Zoo, handlers of Flaco, a Eurasian eagle owl, doubted he could survive on his own.
comment posted at 5:56 AM on Feb-23-23

Bent by Nature, a podcast from LA's KCRW about the legendary DJ Deirdre O'Donoghue and her influential radio show SNAP, has made available live music archives from the show, with dozens of in-studio live music performances from the 80s and early 90s from the likes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, R.E.M., Tom Waits, and Robyn Hitchcock, as well as interviews. Don't know where to get started? Here's a guide. If you still can't decide what to listen to, you're in luck--there's a 24-hour streaming channel featuring a shuffling playlist of SNAP episodes restored from Deirdre's original board tapes.
comment posted at 6:17 AM on Nov-22-22

«Link to audio» As a joke, Jessica Williamson posts a fake “CAT FOUND” poster with pictures of a possum instead of a cat. To her surprise, she gets hundreds of phone calls that ultimately shift her view on humanity. (8 minutes)
comment posted at 4:52 AM on Oct-10-22

Filmmaker Ben Crew has created a fan edit of Tim Burton's Batman as a silent movie. (archive.org link)
comment posted at 6:32 PM on Oct-2-22

“It’s Either Going to Be Really Funny, or They’re Going to Be Horrified”: An Oral History of Superbad [Vanity Fair / Archive / via]
comment posted at 7:42 AM on Aug-23-22

Social Media Was a C.E.O.’s Bullhorn, and How He Lured Women Dan Price was applauded for paying a minimum salary of $70,000 at his Seattle company and criticizing corporate greed. The adulation helped to hide and enable his behavior. CW: sexual assault
comment posted at 5:44 AM on Aug-21-22

Wisconsin primary wins set up key fall confrontation over democracy
Who controls the election machinery in deeply polarized Wisconsin could help determine who wins the White House in 2024—Democratic President Joe Biden or a successor versus Republican predecessor Donald Trump or a clone—and in turn whether democracy nationwide survives Republican perversion and destruction.

comment posted at 6:47 AM on Aug-12-22

My Mom has no friends. On the surface, the article is accurate, her mom has no friends. But if you ask me, the article is really a love letter from a daughter to her mother. An acknowledgement of how much she appreciates her mom now. Quite frankly, being born in NYC (and raised on LI), her mom sounds like a pisser. A pistol even at 80. During my divorced dating phase, I wish I had a date with someone wearing that brown leather skirt.
comment posted at 8:18 AM on Aug-12-22

Suppose your story situation is this. Character A is telling a story, but it's a lie. Character B realizes it's a lie, but doesn't signal that recognition. This is really two problems in one: How do you tell the audience A is lying? And how do you convey that B knows but doesn't reveal that knowledge?
comment posted at 5:24 AM on Jul-3-22

In an excerpt from her upcoming book Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth, author Elizabeth Williamson interviews leading Sandy Hook truther Kelley "gr8mom" Watt, to explore the mentality that would lead someone to hold the belief that one of the bloodiest school shootings never happened. (SLSlate)
comment posted at 4:24 AM on Jun-16-22

Greek composer Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou, noted for the soundtracks of Blade Runner and Chariots Of Fire, and compositions honoring the NASA's 2001 Mars Orbiter mission and the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission among many, many others, and better known as Vangelis, has died.
comment posted at 4:16 AM on May-20-22

The Monks and Nuns of Plum Village, France: "Thich Nhat Hanh, 11.10.1926-22.01.2022": "This morning, the 22 of January 2022 Thay, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, has passed away peacefully at Từ Hiếu Temple in Huế, Vietnam, at 00:00hrs, at the age of 95." BBC News, "Thiền sư Thích Nhất Hạnh viên tịch tại chùa Từ Hiếu ở Huế, thọ 95 tuổi." The Life Story of Thich Nhat Hanh. A Nobel Peace Prize nomination letter written by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. An interview with bell hooks. "Awakening the Heart," a public talk given by Thích Nhất Hạnh. Eliza Barclay (Vox, 03/2019), "Thich Nhat Hanh's final mindfulness lesson: how to die peacefully."
comment posted at 6:57 AM on Jan-22-22

I waited a day respectfully to see if President Biden, a big fan, would post here first but Pádraig Ó Maoldomhnaigh Paddy Maloney, founder of The Chieftains and Claddagh Records died on Monday. The Chieftains put Irish Trad on the world stage not least by listening to music from outside Ireland and riffing on that.
comment posted at 4:48 AM on Oct-14-21

Paste Magazine attempts to list The 50 Best Dystopian Movies of All Time, including some unusual candidates.
comment posted at 12:02 PM on Jul-19-21

Cat-Scan.com is one of the strangest sites I've seen in some time. I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their scanners, or why.
comment posted at 4:25 AM on Jul-15-21

What happens when people constantly upgrade love? NY Times author Kelly Sundberg is tired of "flipping men": bonding with men who then immediately dump her and commit to others. This seems especially cruel for those who have been with someone during a sickness, unemployment, or during a rough time. The shopping/upgrading mentality might have some roots in capitalism: everything is a market, why not love? Modern dating and relationship games seem to beat the hope out of decent people.
comment posted at 4:50 AM on Jul-14-21

An evening of science fiction, naval analyses, and FICINT delivered right to your computer. Join NAVYCON 2020-A to explore parts unknown. (Signup free via Eventbrite).
comment posted at 7:05 AM on Nov-6-20

Design makes a difference. Some simple changes to US ballot designs would prevent unnecessary errors. "Here's a typical mail-in ballot package a voter might see, it is rife with design problems that cause voters to make mistakes and overlook races." More info here at the Center for Civic Design.
comment posted at 7:40 AM on Nov-6-20

What is Tone policing? This web comic "No We Won't Calm Down" explains the basics, but there is so much more to understand.
comment posted at 4:51 AM on Aug-27-20

Japanese Firemen’s Coats (19th century) "Each firefighter in a given brigade was outfitted with a special reversible coat , plain but for the name of the brigade on one side and decorated with richly symbolic imagery on the other."
comment posted at 5:49 AM on Jul-28-20

Hat history, hat fashion, hat racism-- strangely human [sarcasm]. Some [western] hat history, some racist hat history (of course), some more history of hats (mostly about Western History), but the world isn't limited to ideas of hats in the west. Great hats of Japan, Chinese Traditional Hats, Luxury Hats from Africa
comment posted at 8:36 AM on Jun-27-20

A Twitter thread about excessive amounts of fireworks being let off in urban areas all across the United States consistently overnight since the protests began -- with no police response when 911 is called. Is it "black and brown youth letting off steam with stolen high grade fireworks" or a concerted psyops campaign to destabilize troublesome populations?
comment posted at 10:10 AM on Jun-22-20

DJ techno/trance mixes - good. Swiss train driver pov videos - good. Swiss train driver pov videos set to techno mixes - double plus good! From Thomas H.
comment posted at 12:32 PM on May-8-20

In quarantine, people are inadvertently exposing their reading habits A highbrow listicle for the NY Times set. I found this enjoyable. YMMV.
comment posted at 1:19 PM on May-8-20

It's called the #CUCChallenge and it's all about fighting the coronavirus: Quarantined stunt performers from Campus Univers Cascades show us how to fight while social distancing.
comment posted at 5:01 AM on Apr-23-20

ANGLING FOR THE JOURNALIST: Concoct a well thought-out story. TV news producers, writers and reporters are greatly under the influence of Hollywood. Hollywood is equally influenced by what appears in the news. Our culture is reflected in both of these forms of media. So it’s important to combine the necessary theatrical elements to attract them. In essence, give them what they want! The Well Cooked Journalist: A traditional Joey Skaggs recipe (PDF). From "Cathouse for Dogs" and "The Fat Squad" to "Portofess," "Baba Wa Simba," "Metamorphosis: Roach Cure," and "Solomon Project," and more recently, Trump's Kool-Aid Marathon, artist, activist, educator, and notorious media prankster Joey Skaggs is a master in the Art of the Prank [trailer; full documentary; his own write-up on the docu].
comment posted at 10:26 AM on Apr-23-20

In 1995 some friends invited me to Burning Man. I thought it was an overnight rave, so I grabbed a backpack with a change of clothing and my Super8 camera. It wasn't until we entered Nevada that I realized I was going to a week-long festival in the desert. With no food or shelter, and minimal supplies, I lived off the kindness of friends and strangers. [...] The film [...] is unedited—straight from the camera. I only brought two 3.5 minute rolls of film with me (one color and the other black and white), so I preserved film by capturing scenes with short recording—like moving photos. I cut out some under-exposed night footage, but the rest is how I shot it. The music is from a favorite 1995 chillout album by Subsurfing called Frozen Ants.
comment posted at 6:13 AM on Apr-23-20

I spent twenty minutes watching this bonkers metatextual reinterpretation of Blade Runner, "The Lost Cut" so now you have to too.
comment posted at 5:49 PM on Apr-23-20

First, by leveling everything, social media also trivializes everything — freed of barriers, information, like water, pools at the lowest possible level. A presidential candidate’s policy announcement is given equal weight to a snapshot of your niece’s hamster and a video of the latest Kardashian contouring. Second, as all information consolidates on social media, we respond to it using the same small set of tools the platforms provide for us. Our responses become homogenized, too.
comment posted at 3:51 PM on Jan-16-20

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