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The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again": just the bass

My pal John Curley, bassist for the newly-reunited Afghan Whigs, tweeted the above video of The Who's John Entwistle playing bass on "Won't Get Fooled Again." No, that's not an epic solo. That's the isolated bass line from the song.

Great depressing moments in history: Philippe Lebon and the streetlights of Paris

At his blog, Kafka's Mouse, author P.D. Smith details the history of lighting infrastructure in cities—a story that begins with the dawn of gas lights.

London was the first city to get gas-powered street lamps, in 1812. But it was not the first city to hear such an idea proposed. In fact, in an alternate reality, Paris could have been the first illuminated city — had they only listened to tragically hip engineer Philippe Lebon, who was into gas street lamps before they were cool.

It was the French engineer Philippe Lebon (1767-1804) who had the ingenious – though as it turned out premature – idea of using the gas produced from burning wood for heating and lighting cities. He was utterly convinced that he had discovered a new power source for what he called ‘thermolamps or stoves that heat cheaply’. But like many inventors, he found it difficult to convince others that his ideas could work. The French government rejected his proposal to illuminate Paris with gas lights.

So, in 1801, Lebon rented a house in the heart of Paris and, using his invention, spectacularly illuminated its rooms and even the grotto in the garden. Despite this shining example, the French press poured scorn on his idea and manufacturers remained sceptical. Poor Lebon was ruined and his idea faded with the turning out of the last gas-lamp in his show-house. Lebon had spent his entire family fortune on the idea and died in 1804, a bitter man.

But the very next year, William Murdock – who had also invented an ingenious pneumatic urban message system – began installing coal-gas lighting in mills in Manchester and Halifax. Murdock had started experimenting with coal-gas a few years earlier, after hearing of Lebon’s gas-lit house. The age of gas lighting had finally dawned, but sadly without its pioneer, Lebon, ever seeing its light.

Read the rest at Kafka's Mouse

Image: A gas lamp, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from jamescridland's photostream

Wind farms aren't a major cause of bird deaths

It's hard to say how many birds are killed by collisions with wind turbines. The high end of the estimates top out around 450,000 birds each year in the United States. But even that doesn't come close to making wind turbines a major killer of American birds. Among the things that kill far, far, far more birds than wind power: Buildings, cars, and house cats. (Thanks, Uncle Bruce!) Maggie

The Sweet Wines You Shoop

St. James Winery has armed itself with a copy of photoshop. [Hat tip: reck]

Mitt Romney: Climate change is real, but addressing it would be wrong

Science Debate is a group that's working to get political candidates in the United States actually talking publicly about issues of science and technology policy. In 2008, they tried (and failed) to get Barak Obama and John McCain to agree to a live, televised science debate. But they did get both candidates to send in written answers to 14 key questions.

This election cycle, Science Debate sent out a new set of 14 questions—all chosen from a crowdsourced list. Today, they announced that they'd gotten answers back from both Obama and Mitt Romney. You can compare the candidates side-by-side at the Science Debate website. I have to say that, while I disagree with a lot of Romney's conclusions, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of thought and time his staff clearly put into writing some very long and detailed responses.

Perhaps most surprising was his response to a question about climate change. Instead of attempting to flatly deny the evidence, Mitt Romney has apparently moved on to acknowledging that climate change is happening—while simultaneously overplaying the uncertainty surrounding specific risks, and claiming that even if climate change is a big problem there's nothing we can really do about it anyway ... because China.

Personally, I think that's pretty interesting. Climate scientists, and the journalists who write about them, have been talking, anecdotally, about seeing this exact rhetorical shift happening in conservative circles. It seems that the Republican presidential nominee is now one of the people who acknowledge climate change exists, but would still rather not take any decisive steps to deal with it.

I happen to think that's a dumb position. After all, even if the United States can't stop climate change alone, the kinds of policies that would reduce our dependence on fossil fuels would also help us adapt and thrive despite climate shifts and fossil fuel depletion. But this is still a step in the right direction. As several climate scientists I've spoken with have said, we can disagree on the policy. But it's high time we stop pretending that we can't see the changes happening all around us.

Read the rest

The cast of Mad Men "sing" Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up"

I post this not just because it's the cast of AMC's Mad Men performing Rick Astley's famous Rick-rolling anthem one word at a time, but also because of the sheer man hours spent looking for each word in the lyrics being said at any point during the show's first four seasons -- which, if every episode is about 42 minutes, amounts to about 36 and a half hours of Mad Men -- and then editing them all together, to music, in order to create the appearance of an assembled song. Please, bask in appreciation of YouTube user Buchan39's efforts. Quick update 9/5: Wasn't sure yesterday if the video was created for or by standup comedian Richard Sandling -- it was, indeed, created by the comedian himself. (Thanks, Pete!)

Demonic sigils in handy form


Here's all the demonic summoning symbols you're likely to use on a daily basis, in handy flashcard form. All you need to do is print it up and stick it over your monitor, so it's handy when you need it.

A List of Several Demons and Their Sigils of Summoning

Man who excels at carnival games donates more than a quarter million stuffed animals to kids

[Video Link] The story behind the video is here. The winning YouTube comment, if you're a Breaking Bad fan (mild Season 5 spoiler alert)...

Read the rest

Climate change allows 3 explorers to boldly sail where no man has sailed before

The three-man crew of the 31-foot Belzebub II, a fiberglass sailboat "with a living space the size of a bathroom," told the world today how they sailed through the M’Clure Strait in northern Canada, a "decreasingly ice-packed route through the famed Northwest Passage." Warming global temperatures and melting polar ice caps made it possible. The crew's original blog post is here. (LAT)

The story behind that viral video of an autistic boy receiving electroshock "therapy"

New York Magazine has a feature out about the Judge Rotenberg Center (formerly the Behavior Research Institute), a controversial institution targeted by Anonymous when a video showing an autistic child receiving electrical shocks went viral. Andre McCollins was the boy in that video, which was leaked to a local Fox News affiliate in Boston. You can watch a copy here. It's very disturbing. Mother Jones covered the school in an earlier investigative series here, back in 2007.

Time to freak out: An Evil Dead dress that gives you a chainsaw for a hand

Every once in a while, I come across an Etsy site that I feel should make a million dollars a day. (Like Pica Pica Press, the Etsy store that might have first existed in one of my own dreams, and then came to life.) Today, thanks to my old stomping grounds The Mary Sue, I have found another that I'd like to share with you: Nerd Alert Designs. Why? Because of the dress you see to the right.

This is The Ash Dress, inspired by the Evil Dead movies, made in the same color of the shirt work by one Ash Williams played by one Bruce Campbell. As you can see, there is a strategically-placed chainsaw on the skirt, giving the wearer a chainsaw hand upon insertion of the hand into the left pocket. The Necronomicon is not included, but the existence of this dress is evil, dark magic enough.

Nicely done, Nerd Alert Designs. Nicely done. The shop also has dresses inspired by Star Wars, comic books, and even Rainbow Brite.

This dress comes with a chainsaw pocket [The Mary Sue]

Strange superhero Flaming Carrot goes digital

The 1980s had many surreal and outré comic-book stars. I recall particularly following The Tick, Concrete, and Nexus. They were respectively a nigh-invulnerable, possibly mentally ill superhero with a chubby accountant sidekick in a moth-themed flying suit; a writer whose brain was transplanted by aliens (themselves possibly escaped slaves) into a nearly invulnerable rock-like body often performing missions of mercy; and a man (later others, including men, women, and children) picked by a nearly omnipotent being residing in the center of a planet to atone the genocide of his father by being forced to be an almost indestructible and thoroughly powerful superhero, lest he face disabling pain.

You catch the theme here, right? Omnipotence, invulnerability, superhero—all but the Tick reluctant. Into that mix, Flaming Carrot was something altogether different.

Read the rest

To do in NYC, Sep. 8, 2012: Celebrate John Cage's love of foraged wild mushrooms

Photo: mushrooms, by Damon Lapas, shared in BB Flickr Pool

Snip from the NYT:

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the New York Mycological Society and the 100th birthday of the composer John Cage, its founder, there will be an exhibition on mushrooms and Mr. Cage’s passion for them on Sept. 7 and 8 at the Cooper Union, 7 East Seventh Street (Third Avenue). Admission is free. On Sept. 8 from 8 to 11 p.m. there will be a performance of some of Mr. Cage’s works with film and photographic backdrops about mushrooms. Tickets benefit the society: $20 to $100, $5 for students, for the show. A pre-performance dinner at the home of the author Eugenia Bone is $200 a person, including the show, or $350 for two, from newyorkmyc.org.

The late composer's love for 'shrooms was famously documented in the book "For the Birds," which was reviewed by the Times here in 1981.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 would have been the 100th birthday of John Cage. Events around the country commemorating his life are gathered in this LA Times item.

(Thanks, Jerome Mercier!)

Darth Vader onesie

There's tons of stuff in the Boing Boing Shop -- so much that I sometimes find links to stuff elsewhere that make me think, "Hey, I should blog that" just before I realize "Hey, that's from us!"

Case in point, this Darth Vader Onesie, which is currently sold out. You can back-order it, though.

Darth Vader Onesie

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan dies at 54

This year has been filled with sad goodbyes, but this is a particularly sad one. Michael Clarke Duncan, the former bouncer who made good and became an Academy Award nominee for his work in Frank Darabont's The Green Mile, passed away yesterday after suffering complications from a July heart attack. His family says that he "never fully recovered" and had been in the hospital ever since. So, why is this celebrity death sadder than most? Because this guy... he just seemed like one of those super famous people who would gladly and easily talk to you in a bar for an hour. You never heard anything weird or bad about Michael Clarke Duncan, and he seemed like one of the nicest people in show business. And when he showed up in the variety of projects that he did -- Armageddon, Talladega Nights, The Scorpion King, Sin City, voiceover work in Cats and Dogs, Kung Fu Panda and Spider-Man: The New Animated Series -- you were always happy to see (or hear) him! "Oh, Michael Clarke Duncan is in this! I love that guy!" Even in Daredevil, despite it being Daredevil. Even in a bad movie, the presence of Michael Clarke Duncan was usually its saving grace. For me, at least.

To say nothing of how 54 is way too young to say goodbye. Duncan was set to marry Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth (who, yes, is that "Omarosa" from The Apprentice) in January, according to TMZ, and had co-starred on Fox's Bones spinoff The Finder, which was canceled in May. Before his death, he'd completed work on two projects, Into the Hive and The Challenger. Everything about Michael Clarke Duncan's life looked like the beginning of an exciting second act, and it's a shame that the curtain came down before it should have.

Because seriously, this man could really wear a hat.

Michael Clarke Duncan, Academy Award nominee for 'Green Mile,' dead at 54 [CNN]