Knuckles that promote literacy

Spotted today at a Toronto restaurant: a great, pro-literacy set of knuckle-tatts.

READ MORE knuckles, Fresh, Crawford Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Read the rest

Man cultivates healthy lifestyle to be more like his avatar

Marcus Dickinson, 40, was very overweight and unhealthy when he created his EVE Online character Roc Wieler, the tough guy seen above left. Eventually, Dickinson became so inspired by Roc that he hit the gym to be more like him. Above right is Dickinson now. "I'm a role player inherently," Dickinson says. "I take it seriously." Virtual reality: Avatar inspires gamer to hit the gym (CNN) Read the rest

Two brilliant SF YA novels now in paperback

Great news: two of my favorite young adult novels of recent years are now in paperback. First is Steven Gould's 7th Sigma, a spectacular science fiction/western mashup set in the southwest after a mysterious alien invasion makes it impossible to use metal anywhere in the desert. Next is Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker, a brilliant post-peak-oil eco-catastrophe dystopia that matches 7th Sigma for incredible, voracious, unstoppable plotting. Read the rest

Slow animated GIF

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Zombie lord carved from pumpkin

Ray Villafane carved this pumpkin lord at the New York Botanical Gardens, where it was captured on still and video.

Photos from Disney Television Animation's fall art gallery

Here are photos from Disney Television Animation's fall art gallery, themed "Some Kind of Monster," spotlighting submissions from its pool of talented creative artists, executives and staff who create shows like Gravity Falls, which is a favorite around our house. Read the rest

Starlog Magazine: Crazy movie rumors before the Internet

Mike Ryan has a fun article about Starlog magazine in The Huffington Post.

"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.

Ryan spent the day at the library going through Starlog magazine and pulled some choice tidbits:

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.

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Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide

Here are some examples of projects from the Unofficial Lego Technic Builder's Guide.

The infrastructure of longevity — a systems-level perspective of living to 100

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. Read the rest

Sponsor shout-out: ShanaLogic and cephalopod wine/bar accessories

Special thanks to our lovely sponsor ShanaLogic, sellers of handmade and independently-designed jewelry, apparel, gifts, and other curious creations. The shop's inventory of Dellamorte's cephalopod wine/bar products has expanded with the stately Octopus Bottle Opener. Also still available are the popular Squid Corkscrew and Tentacle Wine Stopper. All of the pieces are cast resin with stainless steel. Shana says, "Free domestic shipping for orders over $50!" ShanaLogic Read the rest

This year's hottest fashion item is a CSS style sheet

What do Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) in Web design share in common with high fashion?

MAKE Vol 32 is here!

The new issue of MAKE magazine has hit the stands! Volume 32 has lots of cool projects and articles.

3D printed "Success Kid"

Ryan sez, "I did a digital sculpture of the e-famous Success Kid and am selling 3D printed copies through Shapeways. Here's a video timelapse of the sculpting process."

A fact that explains a lot about why I hate certain bars

According to a Popular Science story published earlier this month, turning up the volume of music in a bar increases the rate at which the patrons drink. Which I suppose makes sense. When you can't talk to anybody, you always have booze to be your friend. In fact, a 22 percent increase in music volume yields a 26 percent increase in alcohol consumption. That answers my long-standing question about why you'd want to make your bar ungodly unpleasant to be in. But, sadly, it also suggests that the problem won't be fixed any time soon. Read the rest

Amazing citizen science opportunity!

This is seriously awesome. Researchers with the Mastadon Matrix Project need help sifting through "matrix" — the dirt that a fossil is embedded in. Join the Project, and you'll be sent a kilogram of matrix from a mastadon dig in New York State. You can do the analysis with inexpensive, easy-to-find equipment, and then send your discoveries back to the scientists. It's a great chance to do real, valuable scientific research in your school or home. Check it out! (Via Karen Traphagen) Read the rest

Country store on dirt road. Sunday afternoon. (Photo)

A 1939 photo by Dorothea Lange for the Farm Security Administration. See full size at Shorpy. Read the rest

Scientific American goes inside the rogue geo-engineering story

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. Read the rest

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