The Strange Realm of Infra-Red: 3

(Charles Platt is a guest blogger)

While driving through Dallas, I stopped to visit the museum in the old Texas Book Depository building from which Lee Harvey Oswald took a shot (or two, or three) at John F. Kennedy. Two X marks have been etched into the asphalt, marking the locations where the president was hit. I was fascinated to see tourists running out into the road to have their pictures taken while standing on an X.

The Book Depository looks especially good to me in infra-red

The ruthlessly modern, official Kennedy memorial, by architect Philip Johnson, is located just a couple of blocks away, but relatively few people seem to go there, perhaps because they are more excited by the guilty thrill of an assassination site which shamelessly admits what it is.

Another possibility is that Johnson’s memorial is shunned because it looks like a giant urinal. (Just my opinion of course. YMMV.) Read the rest

Comments system knackered

The comments are down, but we're working to get 'em fixed as soon as possible! In the meantime, go and watch Dr. Who on BBC America! Exciting stuff. Read the rest

Global Game Jam continues! Here's live video (without kittens)

Boing Boing Video, Offworld, and Boing Boing Gadgets have been on the scene at the Global Game Jam in various cities around the world, and we'll be bringing you some fun post-Jam documentary LOLs next week. For now, check out this meta Flickr photoset, which contains lots of sleepy developers, half-consumed energy drinks, and funny things people think up when they're hyperconnected and under-slept -- international dance-offs, for example.

Above, Boing Boing Video colleague Jolon Bankey is also organizing the Global Game Jam Costa Rica, and this is the live stream for CR. Pura Vida, guys!

Update: Here's the link for their liveblogging -- fun stuff afoot.

Below, Jolon writes:

Hey Xeni! We're at the site of the Global Game Jam in Costa Rica, and all the teams are going strong! We have a few casualties curled up in a corner behind me, but for the most part people haven't slept, or did so for 15 minutes sitting in front of their chairs before jerking awake and getting back to rocking their virtual world in the short time left.

With only 27 short sleepless hours ahead of them, everyone is surprisingly energized. We have had continuous communication with the other locations around the world via webcams and projectors everywhere, which has been a lot of fun. There have been Macarena dance-offs between Costa Rica and the rest of the world, we lost a contest with Brazil, but Scotland gave us a 10 for our efforts.

We polished off some giant tubs of Gallo Pinto and huevos revueltos earlier, and now people are just trying to push through with an unending stream of Sobe Adrenalin Rush (*cough* sponsors Thank you Sobe!)

-jgb 12.04.29 pm Saturday January 31st, 2009 Offices of Schematic, Costa Rica PLaza Roble, Escazu, Costa Rica

Previously on Boing Boing: * Global Game Jam has begun! Read the rest

Interactive Photo-Hunt Game on YouTube

Boing Boing reader Joe Sabia says he's created the first ever interactive photo hunt on YouTube. "There are 30 levels to the game, recapping all the big nominees for the oscars. 64 videos in all. i made use of youtube's annotations... thought you would enjoy." The subject matter may or may not be something that interests you, but I loved this clever and effective use of a mass-market web service feature (annotations) for a purpose other than the one for which that feature was originally developed.

Start here. Read the rest

The Strange Realm of Infra-Red: 2

(Charles Platt is a guest blogger)

Even this very humble shack in Louisiana looks mysteriously beautiful when the visible spectrum is blocked. If we had infra-red sunglasses, the world might appear a lot more pleasant than in its more usual shades of dull-brown, muddy-green, and dirt-gray. Read the rest

The Strange Realm of Infra-Red: 1

(Charles Platt is a guest blogger)

My friend Richard Kadrey introduced me to infra-red photography. Sensors on digital cameras can detect infra-red, but normally are shielded from it by a protective filter that resides as a thin layer over the chip. You can hack a camera by removing the layer, but it is easier to buy a Fuji IS-1, which is infra-red-ready. If you use a lens filter that blocks the visible frequencies, the camera displays an image that consists of infra-red transposed into the visible spectrum.

Vegetation reflects almost all light below red, and thus appears “white.” Conversely, the upper atmosphere does not refract infra-red, and thus a blue sky appears “black.” An unexpected effect is that most fabric dyes reflect infra-red, so that a crowded sidewalk appears to be populated entirely by angelic people dressed in white.

During 2007 I drove across the country and took a bunch of infra-red photographs. The Southern states looked especially good, because they contain so much vegetation. Read the rest

Yesterday at Boing Boing Gadgets

Yesterday on Boing Boing Gadgets: • Samsung shoved 32GBs into a single stick of RAM. • We examined some multi-chromatic electromagnetic chart porn. • Pixel art makes good (if illegible) book jackets. • Brownlee was nostalgic for the days of Prodigy and the <s> emoticon. • Swaying in the wind, sixteen fabric inflatable robots. • Steve Jobs and Bill Gates made out in the Macintosh Dating Game. • We tried to formulate a question to ask sci-fi writers that would, fifty years from now, juxtapose the actual path of future technology with our own subconscious expectations of which way that path will wind. That won't make a lot of sense, so just read the post. • Beschizza broke rocks with a hammer made of engine parts. • The BBC got punked into believing in a magical cell phone created by Oompa Loompas. • We looked at some cool wallets made from cassette tapes. • We argued bitterly about the merits of a Space Invaders watch that doesn't actually play Space Invaders. • Kittens rode a Roomba around the room. • A clockwork trilobyte crawled out of the wreckage of the post-apocalypse. • We jumped to our feet and applauded the world's first vertical backflip on a Big Wheel. And more besides. Come read us! Link Read the rest

Playing my Widower Card

Ed Note: Boingboing's current guest blogger Gareth Branwyn writes on technology, pop and fringe culture. He is currently a Contributing Editor at Maker Media. Recent projects have included co-creating The Maker's Notebook and editing The Best of MAKE and The Best of Instructables collections.

A dear friend of mine, who blogs under the name Supa Dupa Fresh, and I share a grim truth -- we've both lost our spouses. One of the other things we have in common is an off-beat sense of humor. These two forces collide on her Fresh Widow blog, and especially, with her Fresh Widow (and Widower) Cards. She explains:

One night in my support group, S. said casually that he’d “left work early… I just pulled a widower card.” I thought about how often I’d done this in the months since LH died, but more about how I could make good use of some little advantage. All the handicaps I was living with… single (really, double) parenting, how impossible it was to go grocery shopping with a toddler, and how no one could see that anything was wrong. The side of me that is tempted to shoplift (but only cashmere or chocolate) was aroused. I was always comfortable as an underachiever, but could I have some legitimate “cover” after surviving catastrophe? Something versatile? Something I could use every day? And so the concept was born: Not as useful as a “get out of jail free” card, more powerful than a hall pass… it’s… it’s… The Widow Card!
Read the rest

Charts: 4

(Charles Platt is a guest blogger)

Still on the topic of population and mortality (more or less), here is some light relief. I redraw the chart from a source that I found at Read the rest

Charts: 3

(Charles Platt is a guest blogger)

To what extent do we feel overcrowded, as a species? I’m not talking about resources; just psychological factors.

To create this chart I turned to the CIA Factbook, where I looked up the populations of various nations and then divided this number into their land area (excluding lakes and rivers) to get the number of square feet available per person. I represented the results in squares that are all drawn to the same scale.

Of course if you are in Australia, where each resident has almost 4 million square feet to play with, you won’t make full use of your land ration, if only because most of it is desert. On the other hand, when I was in Australia I did feel intuitively aware that the country was, so to speak, empty. As soon as I drove out of an urban area, the emptiness was right there. Conversely, in Hong Kong, where citizens have barely more than 1,600 square feet each, everyone is intensely aware of being crammed into a very crowded place.

Personally I enjoy wilderness areas, but I wouldn’t claim that open spaces are essential for my mental health. I do, after all, still have an apartment in New York City containing just 350 square feet. The apartment next to mine, identical in size, used to be a home not only to a married couple, but also their young child.

I suspect that our romantic yearnings for “freedom to roam” may be just that: Romantic yearnings. Read the rest

More delightful silliness from "Look Around You"

Scott Beale of Laughing Squid pointed to two fantastic episodes of "Look Around You," a BBC Comedy from 2002 that parodies public science education videos.

Previously:"Look Around You" comes to US cable this week - Boing Boing Educational TV parody: Look Around You - Boing Boing Read the rest

Time-lapse of a 9-month-old at play

All hail Discordia! (Via Forgetomori, and BB Gadgets!) Read the rest

A comment from Modusoperandi

Modusoperandi, responding to markmarkmark in the Attenborough's response to creationists' hate mail thread, said:
markmarkmark "Jesus is my rabbi and all that is best in me is him and every mistake is my own."
One Night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonged to him and the other to the Lord.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him, and he questioned the Lord about it: "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you you'd walk with me all the way, but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."

The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child, I love you and would never leave you. Also, you're being intermittently stalked by the Invisible Man."

Good one. Front page. Read the rest

Global Game Jam has begun! (live video stream)

Global Game Jam is under way. Live stream from the Costa Rica team is above, and more about the event here and in this previous Boing Boing blog post. Boing Boing Video, Boing Boing Gadgets, and Offworld will be popping up in various cities, give us a shout in the comments if you'd like to give us a shout-out from your location, and send us a video! We'll reach out with upload info.

(Thanks, Ustream, Jolon Bankey, and Global Game Jam Costa Rica crew!) Read the rest

Charts: 2

(Charles Platt is a guest blogger)

Here's another histogram which may seem a little grim but, I think, is worth contemplating. Suppose someone was born in the year 2004. If the factors which determined mortality in that year remain the same throughout the rest of that person's life, what percentage of his or her contemporaries will still be alive at various points in the future?

You can see that about half the people born in 2004 are expected to disappear by age 80, and from that point on, the number diminishes very rapidly. If you hope to live beyond 80, and you would like to depend on contemporaries for companionship, this may be a problem.

The good news is that the situation has improved. When a similar projection was made in the 1950s for people born in 1949, only 1 person in 5 was expected to live to be 80. We can feel happy that people today are surviving more tenaciously than anyone expected half a century ago.

How will our current prediction turn out fifty years from now? Presumably the answer depends on our priorities. If lives are worth saving, perhaps it will make sense to fund more research into the aging process. Read the rest

1981 video about online newspapers

Here's a report from KRON in San Francisco about The San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle's forays into online news in 1981. (Thanks, Mark!) Read the rest

Charts: 1

(Charles Platt is a guest blogger)

I have always enjoyed drawing charts and graphs as a means to enhance my understanding the world.

The histogram above addresses the most fundamental fact of human life: Sooner or later, it ends. To me, all other issues are trivial by comparison.

I made this chart using data from the National Institutes of Health. You can find your age group on the bottom scale, then check your average remaining life expectancy on the left scale. Naturally this number declines relentlessly as you get older.

The good news is that the longer you live, the longer you are likely to live. Thus, at birth in the United States, under conditions that prevail today, you can expect to live for a little more than 75 years. But at age 75, on average you still have another 10 years left. How can this be? Because some of the people who were born around the same time as yourself have already died by the time you’re 75, leaving only a subset who were less susceptible to disease (or accidents).

The bad news is that despite all our advances in medicine, sanitation, and other relevant factors, the chart still tapers off around age 100. Average lifespan has increased, but maximum lifespan has not changed significantly.

One reason may be that research to prolong maximum lifespan receives minuscule funding, especially compared with popular endeavors such as cancer research. Many people seem to feel that extending maximum lifespan would be “wrong” (even at a time of rapidly declining birth rates in many nations) or “unnatural” (even though our average life expectancy used to be around 40, and has improved through totally unnatural means such as antibiotics). Read the rest

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