Quarterly is a company that sells subscriptions to boxes filled with items selected by guest curators (including our friends Veronica Belmont, Joshua Foer, and Alexis Madrigal). They've also invited me to be a curator. My first package of objects is called "Fantastic Plastic," and I'm excited about it!
Here is my statement about my package:
I love small plastic gadgets that do something surprising. You can carry them around in your pocket and use them to delight other people when you see them. Who can forget the scene in Play it Again, Sam when Woody Allen gives Dianne Keaton a plastic skunk for her birthday and she is touched to the point of tears? Or the time Jerry Seinfeld gave Elaine a Tweety Bird Pez Dispenser in the middle of a piano recital and it gave her a case of the giggles? Plastic items are excellent gifts —- precisely because they have little intrinsic value, the love and thoughtfulness of the giver stands out.
MAKE senior editor Goli Mohammadi interviewed Jim Burke, organizer of the Power Racing Series, an event where adults soup-up battery-operated Power Wheels cars and race them on a track, often wearing costumes. If you are coming to Maker Faire New York later this month, you can see these wacky races first-hand.
Sam Raimi is involved in a lot of projects these days as a producer and director, but the last time he actually wrote us something was 2009's Drag Me to Hell. He'd like that to change, and in an interview with Shock Till You Drop, he revealed that he and his brother Ivan (his co-writer on Drag Me to Hell) were currently writing a screenplay for a new horror movie, but it's still in the early stages: "It's a very simple story about a character, we're trying to figure out what they want, it's all of the basic stuff - how they come involved with this darker force. There's nothing much to tell [yet], I've got a three-page treatment we're working off of right now." And that is all the fiercely generic red meat we get for now... which we'll all gladly take. It's just nice to know it's happening. (via Shock Till You Drop)
Unfortunately the thread is crashing frequently and is in read-only mode due to heavy traffic, but I'm looking forward to seeing his answers to people's questions. Here's a cached copy of the page, but it's likely to be out of date.
From David McCandless's Information Is Beautiful Studio comes a magnificent charticle about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Above is just the top portion. See the whole thing at BBC Future, "Are We Alone?" (via Wired)
Comics writer Karl Kesel and his wife recently adopted a baby whose parents were addicted to heroin. This is the sort of backstory that would normally land a kid in the foster-care system, which does not, statistically speaking, offer much hope at a full and happy life. The Kesels have seriously done some good here, but it's cost them. Their son Isaac racked up $67,000 in medical bills during his first few months of life (it's not clear yet how much of that will be covered by Myrna Kesel's insurance), and it cost another $25,000 to adopt him. Karl Kesel is selling off his collection of comic books to pay the bills, but some Redditors have set up a crowd-funding campaign to help out. You can donate for the next two days.
Apparently, it was just as bad as we feared. Not long ago, it was reported that production on the Michael Bay-produced "Ninja Turtles" movie was pushed to 2014. Because 2014 is the 30th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? No! That was a convenient excuse. Besides, "Ninja Turtles" is basically a cheap imitator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since half of their character description -- along with the central freaking premise -- were done away with. No, it was because the script was said to have "issues." Meaning: the script was terrible. Several people claim to have gotten their hands on this script, and there are terrible, awful, no good, very bad things in it. Starting with 18-year-old high school lovebirds Casey Jones and April O'Neil. Seriously. That almost happened.
A new, 25-year study of rhesus monkeys is muddying the waters around the theory that heavily limiting the number of calories you eat can prolong your life. You've probably heard about the studies with worms, and mice, and rats, showing that those animals live longer, healthier lives when they eat significantly less food than control animals. But, as Nature News points out, those results aren't always consistent from study-to-study—a fact which suggests we don't really understand all the factors in play just yet. In fact, the new rhesus study flatly contradicts a previous rhesus study. But that previous experiment could have been flawed because control monkeys were fed high-sugar foods in unlimited quantities, rather than a reasonable, healthy diet. Basically, if animals really do live longer on super-low calorie diets, there's probably more going on there than just super-low calorie diets.
Jon Rafman has compiled a breathtaking collection of bizarre, moving, upsetting, and compelling photos culled from Google Street View. His site is called "9-eyes," for the number of cameras on the top of the Google Street View cars. Jon Rafman's "9-eyes"(via Smithsonian)
It sure seems like a completed structure at first glance. But look closer. Specifically, look at the piles of stone blocks stacked on top of the columns.
Those blocks were hauled up there during construction—around the turn of the 20th century. They were supposed to be carved into sculptures representing "Music", "Architecture", "Painting" and, ironically, "Sculpture". Instead, the stone has sat there for 110 years, through two major renovations, un-carved and largely ignored.
Steve shared some amazing conversations with the "First Man," from what I can tell.
Tang is a farce. That was the first thing Neil Armstrong told me last night. “We did not use it on the Apollo missions.”
I asked him, of all of the systems and stages of the mission, which did he worry about the most? (the frequently failing autopilot? the reliance on a global network of astronomers to spot solar flares in time to get the warning out? the onboard computers being less powerful than a Furby?....)
He gave a detailed answer about the hypergolic fuel mixing system for the lunar module. Rather than an ignition system, they had two substances that would ignite upon contact. Instead of an electric pump, he wished he had a big simple lever to mechanically initiate mixing.
That seemed a bit odd to me at first. So, I asked if he gave that answer because it really was the most likely point of failure, or because it symbolizes a vivid nightmare – having completed the moon mission, pushing the button... and the engines just wont start.
He responded that he had dreams about that for two years prior to the launch.