Spotted today at a Toronto restaurant: a great, pro-literacy set of knuckle-tatts.
Ryan spent the day at the library going through Starlog magazine and pulled some choice tidbits:
"Starlog" was a glorious publication. In the mid-1980s, at a small-town newsstand in mid-Missouri, I had my first experience with "Starlog." This particular newsstand often carried back issues of comic books (most often "The Flash," for whatever reason), but one day I discovered a box full of "Starlog" magazines from the late '70s and early '80s that were practically being given away. Darth Vader himself was on one of the covers; I just had to own these.
April 1979: As for why Chewbacca doesn't receive a medal at the end of "Star Wars," this is as good of an explanation as any other.
I think the reason the wook [sic] didn't get a medal was because Princess Leia simply isn't that tall. He could have received his after the ceremony.
April 1979: In an interview with Mark Hamill, he gives us an early view of the grumpy Harrison Ford we would all come to love. (Of course, it's hard to blame Ford in this situation.)
The problem was that we had been booked on a Sunday morning financial show. This guy was only interested in how the picture affected 20th Century Fox's stock, and to him we were just three dumbbell actors who got a lucky break. He finished up by saying, "I don't want to put you on edge or anything, but let me sum up by saying that it's certainly not Ingmar Bergman." I looked over at Harrison, and I could see the veins on his neck popping out.
June 1979: Author Harlan Ellison is not a fan of Mark Hamill.
Mr. Hamill's confusion about my attitude toward the little film in which he appeared is touching. Equally touching is his understanding of the unimportance of his opinions; would that have more of us had the sense and nobility to perceive our limitations. Since Mr, Hamill is, by his own admission, one who does not read books, I take it as a gesture of magnanimity not to further ridicule him: As a functional illiterate, Mr. Hamill does a good enough job on himself.
Here are some examples of projects from the Unofficial Lego Technic Builder's Guide. I'm surprised by the complexity of the vehicles and robots that you can build with these components. (And how could anyone resist the far-out soundtrack that accompanies the trailer?)
I really enjoyed reading a recent story in The New York Times Magazine about attempts to understand extreme longevity — the weird tendency for certain populations to have larger-than-average numbers of people who live well into their 90s, if not 100s.
Written by Dan Buettner, the piece focuses on the Greek island of Ikaria, and, in many ways, it's a lot like a lot of the other stories I've read on this subject. From a scientific perspective, we don't really understand why some people live longer than others. And we definitely don't understand why some populations have more people who live longer. There are lots of theories. Conveniently, they tend to coincide with our own biases about what we currently think is most wrong with our own society. So articles about extremely long-lived populations tend to offer a lot of inspiring stories, some funny quotes from really old people, and not a lot in the way of answers.
Buettner's story has all those elements, but it also proposes some ideas that were, for me, really thought provoking. After spending much of the article discussing the Ikarian's diet (it's low in meat and sugar, high in antioxidants, and includes lots of locally produced food and wine) and their laid-back, low-stress way of life, Buettner doesn't suggest that we'll all live to be 100 if we just, individually, try to live exactly like the Ikarians do. In fact, he points out that other communities of long-lived individuals actually live differently — Californian Seventh-Day Adventists, for instance, eat no meat at all and don't drink, and they live with the normal stresses of everyday American life.
What these groups do have in common, though, is a strong social infrastructure that ties people to each other emotionally and connects individual choices to a bigger community lifestyle.
Read the rest
The latest episode of PBS Digital Studios’ weekly Web series ‘Idea Channel’, from producers Kornhaber Brown, posits that Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) in Web design actually share quite a bit in common with high fashion.
The fashion world has long told us that the outfit makes the person. Surprisingly, a similar comparison can be drawn with CSS and websites. Sure, websites, at heart, are just a bunch of coded lines, but a stylesheet on top of all that raw code helps it to become something so much more – fluid, engaging, artistic – and to transcend simple functionality; really, everything that fashion does for creative and image-conscious people.
The new issue of MAKE magazine has hit the stands! Volume 32 has lots of cool projects and articles. The cover story is a profile of prop maker Shawn Thorrson, who makes amazing science fiction costumes with a vacu-form system in his workshop. The issue also includes an interview with Arduino co-creator Massimo Banzi, an introduction to industrial design by Bob Knetzger, a profile of famous toy and game designer Marvin Glass (Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, Mousetrap, Operation), a BeagleBone tutorial, a feature about the rocket industry in the Mojave Desert, and a profile of Dezso Molnar, creator of a motorcycle gyrocopter.
A 1939 photo by Dorothea Lange for the Farm Security Administration. See full size at Shorpy.
Recently, news broke that a scientist had unilaterally launched a geo-engineering experiment — dumping iron sulfate and iron oxide into the Pacific Ocean. There were two goals to the project: First, grow a massive plankton bloom which would store atmospheric carbon the same way that trees take in and store atmospheric carbon; second, use that plankton as a food source to restore salmon populations in the northern Pacific. If it sounds like those two goals are kind of fundamentally contradictory — if the salmon eat the plankton, then the stored carbon is going to end up back in the atmosphere, not indefinitely stored — well, you're right.
But the project showed that it's relatively easy for a small group of people to experiment on Earth's ecosystem without any oversight or approval from the global community at large. That's why the story made headlines. And it's why Scientific American's David Biello did a two-part feature on the experiment, writing about the background and interviewing Russ George, the scientist who launched the project.
George's ideas do have a basis in science. In essence, he's trying to replicate the effects of a volcanic eruption, which are associated with plankton blooms. George believes that the blooms are caused by large depositions of the nutrient iron. And, although other scientists think his goal of feeding salmon would defeat his goal of storing carbon, George thinks their findings are wrong. And he thinks this study will prove it. As a bonus, he's also hoping that the effect on salmon will reinvigorate the economy of a nearby Haida fishing village.
As for the legality of the project, here's what George told Scientific American:
This is Canada so it's British law, not American law. In British law, if you want to do something and you're not sure whether it's legal or not, you commission officers of the court to do an analysis and produce an official document, a legal opinion as to whether it breaks the law or not. This was done. The opinion was that with comparative studies and international laws we were absolutely in the clear. The claim that this is illegal is the design of the people who want to burn the books. This is the life of the village that they're trying to kill.