Art-video made by attaching pyramidal crystals to an LCD

Mikey P sez, "A guy I went to art school with, Kit Webster, has made something unusual and pretty captivating by attaching pyramid-shaped crystals to an LCD screen and running some kind of algorithmically-generated video through them. It creates a hypnotic, kaleidoscopic effect and is well worth checking out. (The video's under 2 minutes long, which is nice for my video-art attention span and perhaps yours too.)"

PRISMATICA (Thanks, Mikey P!)

Hidden camera footage of police officers hindering citizens who try to file complaints

This video is a montage of hidden camera footage of police officers across America -- in unspecified jurisdictions -- intimidating or otherwise hindering someone who has asked for a complaint form. They ask for ID, they demand details, they make veiled threats, they make explicit threats. This is exactly what happened to me the two times I tried to file a complaint for police misconduct (once in Toronto, once in San Francisco).

Wanna File a Police Complaint (Arrested for Trying) (via Reddit)

A moronic bike thief attempts to ply his trade


[Video Link] From Animal New York:

While out on a shoot Friday, the ANIMAL team captured footage of a thief with questionable intelligence trying to steal parts from a locked up bike on the Lower East Side. The video was shot at around 3PM on Attorney Street (between Houston and Stanton). That’s when a young man wearing a hoodie loosened the handlebars from a track bike and attempted to rip them off, literally. Sadly for him, this fixed gear has brakes and the cable prevents him from doing so, resulting in hilarity.
A moronic bike thief attempts to ply his trade

Icebound, long-abandoned Communist flying saucer in the cliffs of Bulgaria


Timothy sez, "This is a link to some photos I have took of Buzludzha (pronounced Buz'ol'ja) a very remote building in the Balkan Mountains. It is Bulgaria's largest monument to Communism which was left to ruin after the revolution in 1989. An incredible 70 metre tall, 1970's 'flying saucer' perched precariously in the snow on a ridge at 1500m. Full of beautiful communist mosaic frescos and an amazing central atrium complete with giant golden hammer and sickle. It took 6000 workers 7 years to build. I managed to fly over it in a microlight in mid winter to get some interesting pictures too. Such an amazing place."

Forget Your Past (Thanks, Timothy!)

Read the rest

Deco hood ornaments of Lalique


RM Auction is selling off a lot of Lalique hood ornaments ("mascots") collected by Ele Chesney. They're as lovely a collection of deco beasties as you'll find anywhere.

In 1925, André Citroën’s company was a primary sponsor and exhibitor for the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. The motoring magnate rented the Eiffel Tower and had thousands of lights artfully attached to the structure. At night, the double chevron emblem and name “Citroen” was an extraordinary sight seen by millions of people in “The City of Lights.” Knowing he would be displaying his company’s Citroën 5CV, Citroën commissioned Lalique to create a glass mascot that could be mounted on the radiator of the car. Citroen wanted the mascot to feature five prancing horses. Thus was born Lalique’s fifth mascot, “Cinq Chevaux.”

The success of the Citroën mascot exposed his unique talent to an entirely new audience. During the next seven years, Lalique created a total of 27 mascots, symbolizing energy, speed and motion; religion; individuality and form of nature; and human sensuality and sexuality—each expressing the grace and details of human and animal forms.

The other mascots needed to complete this photographic collection include Sirène (small mermaid) and Naïade (large mermaid). Both were originally offered as paperweights in 1920 and had base sizes equaling those of other mascots. Longchamps (#1152B: horse head – single mane, a variation of longchamps #1152A: horse head – double mane) crowns the collection totaling 30 pieces. These comprise the 1932 Lalique catalogue.

The Lalique Mascot Collection of Ele Chesney (via How to Be a Retronaut)

In Minecraft, a fountain of cats at the top of the world

271kochu created a "fountain of cats" in Minecraft by building a structure that extended to the top of the world, then exploiting the game's simple flocking rules for virtual cats to entice the sprites to form a never-ending fountain that is a joy to behold.

Catsplosion (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

TED2012: Post Secret - Frank Warren


[Video Link] Frank Warren is the founder of Post Secret. He's received over 500,000 postcards from anonymous people around the world who have shared a secret they've never told anyone before. I interviewed Frank right after his fantastic TED talk this afternoon, which got standing ovation.

See all my TED2012 coverage here.

A pessimist and an optimist talk at TED2012

The first two videos from TED2012 are up. They're from yesterday's session. Paul Gilding, author of The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World, gave a very depressing talk about the imminent end of life as we know it. It's titled The Earth is Full:

Have we used up all our resources? Have we filled up all the livable space on Earth? Paul Gilding suggests we have, and the possibility of devastating consequences, in a talk that's equal parts terrifying and, oddly, hopeful.

Gilding's talk was followed by a much more positive one by Peter Diamandis, chair of the X Prize Foundation and Singularity University, titled Abundance is our Future:

Onstage at TED2012, Peter Diamandis makes a case for optimism -- that we'll invent, innovate and create ways to solve the challenges that loom over us. "I’m not saying we don’t have our set of problems; we surely do. But ultimately, we knock them down.”

I was glad Diamandis' talk followed Gilding's, because I tend to believe the most recent argument I hear.

12-port USB strip

This 12-port USB power-strip looks like just the thing for people like me, who have three or four USB switches daisy-chained behind our desks (in fact, I could use a 24-port model). I have no idea if this is a crapgadget or not, but I like the underlying notion.

Satechi 12 Port USB Hub with Power Adapter & 2 Control Switches (via Red Ferret)

Smithsonian building archive of printable 3D scans


The Smithsonian, the world's largest museum, is planning on producing 3D scans of its collection and making them freely available to the public to print out at home on their 3D printers (or incorporate into their virtual worlds). CNet's Daniel Terdiman has the story:

Update: Sarah Taylor Sulick from the Smithsonian sez, "Unfortunately we have no plans to make 3D scans of our collection freely available for the public to print. The CNET story is a bit misleading on that point. Our 3-D team mentioned that we COULD go there theoretically, but as of right now it is not part of our plan. The reality is also that we have 137M objects in our collection and only 2 people working on this project. So we are no where near being able to scan everything and essentially never will be."

Now, with that high-end scanner, as well as less expensive tools that include normal digital cameras and freely available cloud-based digitization software, Metallo and his fellow 3D digitization coordinator Vince Rossi are slowly setting out to begin building a new Smithsonian digital archive. They hope this initiative will eventually lead to scores of 3D printed exhibits, as well as countless 3D models that could theoretically be used in the museums, in schools, or just about anywhere people have an interest in the Smithsonian's vast physical holdings...

Metallo and Rossi's goal is clear: they want to build a large collection of 3D scanned objects and archaeological sites that can support the entire Smithsonian complex. They've got technology on their side--with minimally invasive laser scanners they can capture the geometry of just about any object or site with accuracy down to the micron level.

But their resources are few, and the two told CNET that they have to be smart about the projects they choose to digitize. They have to know that their work is going to tell a story in a new way or give researchers new tools in order to justify spending the time it takes to do the work.

Smithsonian turns to 3D to bring collection to the world (via /.)

(Image: Red Eye on Demand/Smithsonian)

Scrap rayguns from Clayton Bailey


On Wired, Matt Simon profiles Clayton Bailey, who makes spectacular rayguns out of junk and scrap, and who is possessed of a truly magnificent mustache.

Next you’ll notice the many steampunkish ray guns — from dueling pistols to rifles to turrets — that Bailey has constructed from materials he found at flea markets and scrap yards around the San Francisco Bay Area. Instead of shooting lasers, they utilize either lungpower or pump-action air pressure to launch peas, corks or bits of potato a third of the way down a football field.

They’re gorgeous and entirely nonlethal, unless you’re targeting someone with an especially bad allergy to peas, corks or potatoes.

Scrap Yards Yield Raw Material for Artist’s Amazing Ray Guns

(Image: Ariel Zambelich/Wired.com)

TED2012: littleBits creator Ayah Bdeir


[Video Link] Ayah Bdeir is the founder and lead engineer of littleBits, an open source library of electronic modules that snap together with tiny magnets for prototyping and play. littleBits won Popular Science's "Best of Toy Fair 2012" and Ayah was named a TED Fellow this year. I interviewed her this morning at TED2012 in Long Beach, CA.

See all my TED2012 coverage here.

Celebrating the wartime pleasure of getting loaded and cleaning your guns


This wartime ad from Life encourages you to get loaded on fine booze at home while cleaning your guns, to leave the roads and railways clear for Our Boys.

Life, October 16, 1944

Old toy for teaching children to accurately drop atom bombs


Before the "Nintendo wars" of the early 21st century, there were these toys, which invited young children to practice accurately releasing atom bombs. I'm not sure that the skills you learned with this gadget would translate into real A-bombing practice, though, which probably disappointed some youngsters.

Atom Bomber

The Pirate Bay moves towards torrent-free database

The Pirate Bay has moved away from serving torrent files. Now it serves "magnet links," which are the addresses of Internet users whose computers have Torrent files; when you want to download a file, you first download its torrent from other users, then the file itself. This means that the Pirate Bay is no longer serving links to files that may infringe copyright -- now it serves links to links to files that might infringe copyright. This also has the effect of shrinking TPB's database to 90MB -- small enough to fit on a ZIP cartridge, and trivial to torrent, mirror or proxy in places where TPB is blocked.

While a torrent-less Pirate Bay may sound like small disaster, in reality not much is going to change.

“It shouldn’t make much of a difference for the average user. At most it will take a few more seconds before a torrent shows the size and files,” The Pirate Bay team told TorrentFreak today.

“Just click the red button instead of the green one and all will be fine”

Torrents that are only shared by a handful of people (<10 ) will remain available for now, to ensure that the files remain accessible. For magnet links to work at least one person in the swarm should have the complete .torrent file and a BitTorrent client that supports magnet links.

"We put the 10 peer limit in just in case someone who created a torrent has an outdated client that doesn't support magnets. By now all common torrent clients support magnets," TorrentFreak was told.

The Pirate Bay, Now Without Torrents