Refugee family lives in airport

Hassan Abdo Ahmed Mohammed, his wife, and four children escaped the Syrian civil war to settle in Russia. The Kurdish family landed in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport but the Russian government says the family's visas are fake. If they return to Syria, they may be killed. So they have been living in the airport for 50 days while lawyers try to sort out their status. UNICEF brings them food and, a week ago, the United Nations and an NGO convinced Russian authorities to permit them to spend their nights in a terminal hotel room. From CNN:

Mohammed thinks Russia's close ties with the embattled Syrian government are interfering with his plans to enter Russia.

"Russia has a very strong relation with the Syrian regime, and they don't want to encourage Syrians to leave the country," he said.

Mohammed's lawyer said the Syrian government checked out their passports and said they were authentic. Russian authorities are now investigating the the passports, the lawyer said, and should come to a decision soon.

"Kurdish family fleeing Syria stuck in Moscow airport for over 50 days" Read the rest

Gorgeous oil paintings on tree slices


Alison Moritsugu paints beautiful landscapes, including some on slices of trees that make the logs resemble portals onto the natural scenes in which they grew. Her new work, a collection called titled "inconsequence / in consequence," will be exhibited at the Littlejohn Contemporary gallery in New York City from November 12 through December 12, 2015.

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Door repair technician's excellent t-shirt


Very clever and also practical! (via feed-me-tacos, r/pics) Read the rest

New biography of Dungeons and Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax


Michael Witwer's Empire of Imagination is a new biography of Dungeons and Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax that not only tells the tale of this marvelous wizard but also explores the profound impact D&D had on popular culture, gaming, and geek culture. NPR spoke with Witwer for All Things Considered. Listen below.

"Many of the derivative games — and maybe it's all of the derivative games we've talked about — whether it be computer role-playing games or whatnot, they actually lack most of the most important fundamental elements of a role-playing game," Witwer says. "That is, sitting around with your friends and participating in this kind of group storytelling exercise: actually being in a room physically sitting at a table with nothing but pencils and paper and dice. There's something very special about that, and it's kind of a social experience that's pretty hard to frankly re-create over any type of electronic media."

Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons (Amazon)

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See MIT's odd new jumping cube robots


MIT researchers developed this "Soft Cube Capable of Controllable Continuous Jumping." From IEEE Spectrum:

Inside of the robot there are two motorized rotors, each connected to one end of four flattened loops of spring steel. Activating the rotors causes the spring steel loops that I’m just going to go ahead and call tongues to get pulled through rectangular openings (mouths) into a round cavity inside the body of the robot, compressing them. As the rotors continue to turn, eventually the compressed tongues get pulled all the way around back to the mouths, at which point they spring out, releasing that elastic energy all at once and causing the robot to jump.

"With some light-weight payloads, such as miniature cameras, the robot can be used for exploration tasks," write the researchers. "Moreover, a wireless sensor network can be automatically deployed and reconfigured for outdoor surveillance by using a group of our jumping robots."

Next, they hope to increase the robots' power so the cubes can jump higher and cover more ground.

"MIT's Cube Robot Uses Springy Metal Tongues to Jump" (IEEE Spectrum)

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Crocodile-buffalo hybrid photographed in Thailand! (And Egyptian demon seen in Greece!)


This creepy crocodile-buffalo hybrid turned up in High Rock, Thailand this month. The beast bears a striking resemblance to the half-aquatic, half-terrestrial Hindu god Makara, and is now on display in the village! According to Mysterious Universe, the creature may actually be a calf with a skin disorder. Sure it is....

Related, off the west coast of Greece, tourist Harvey Robertson snapped the following photo of this bizarre crocodile-hippo-dolphin that could be the earthly incarnation of the Egyptian demon Ammit, seen in illustration below!

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Which Presidential candidates are climate change deniers?


From Columbia University's Earth Institute:

Ben Carson (retired neurosurgeon) believes that climate change is happening in the sense that there’s “always going to be either cooling or warming going on” and has called the climate debate “irrelevant.” While he has no plans to combat climate change, he does believe it’s important to protect the environment. If elected, he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline and develop oil resources while also investing in renewable resources; however, he would not support any government subsidies because he feels they interfere with the free market.

Donald Trump (real estate developer) doesn’t believe in climate change and asserts that the changes we see are actually just weather, unaffected by human actions. He puts climate change low on the list of problems we need to address. In 2012, Trump said global warming was a hoax created by China to make U.S. manufacturing uncompetitive. He supports regulating air pollution.

Hillary Clinton (former U.S. senator from New York and secretary of state) believes climate change is real and manmade. She has called it “the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face as a nation and a world.” Clinton unveiled a plan that would install half a billion solar panels across the country by 2020 (a 700 percent increase in solar capacity); and expand renewable energy (including geothermal and hydro) sufficiently to produce 33 percent of U.S. electricity by 2027. Her Clean Energy Challenge, partnering with states, cities and communities, will include incentives, competitions, and investment in transmission and R&D.

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Wah wah, wah, wah wah: Peanuts text-to-adult speech translator

The Wah Wah Machine translates your text into the unintelligible trombone vocalizations of all adults in the Peanuts movies. It's a very clever promotion for The Peanuts Movie out next month.

(Bonus special message when it catches what may be profanity!) Read the rest

Deeply freaky space-jazz-prog-fusion from The Visitors (1974)

Far fucking out! Weirdo space jazz prog-rock from French composer Jean-Pierre Massiera and his Visitors ensemble 1974. Here's what reissue label Lion Productions had to say when they re-released The Visitors:

(Massiera) decided that his new psychedelic nightmare should be a concept album on the theme of extra-terrestrial contact. It is a truly startling mix of prog, psych, fusion and zeuhl elements, with complex arrangements and grandiose vocals. Massiera kept the basics: keyboards (Hammond organ and mini-Moog), guitar, and rhythm section. That said, he also insisted on a type of vocal polyphony, with voices singing in unison or performing call-and-response echo effects in the style of Vanilla Fudge. To push it further, Massiera peppered the album with special effects. Samplers were non-existent, which meant that he had to transfer location-recorded “found sounds” onto the master-tape by hand! The Visitors album which resulted from this musical alchemy is a dark and doom-laden psyched-out masterpiece: other-worldly, with outer space violins, burning guitar leads, layers of lysergic organ, and twisted choral voices creeping up on you from behind the shadows.

The Visitors (Amazon)

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Inside the hollow Earth are aliens, Nazis, and the Lost Tribes of Israel


The shell of the Earth is about 800 miles thick before it opens up to a massive hollow containing its own sun. Entry points are at the North and South Poles. The residents include the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel, led inside by God, where they live for hundreds of years and enjoy such advances as "flying saucer technology." This according to Rodney Cluff, author of World Top Secret: Our Earth IS Hollow!: The Scientific, Scriptural and Historical Evidence that Our Earth Is Hollow!

Over at Atlas Obscura, Eric Grundhauser interviewed Cluff for a wonderful feature about the fictional and non-fictional (?) history of the hollow Earth:

One of the most popular pieces of evidence for Hollow Earth is a supposed secret journal entry by Admiral Richard Byrd, who claimed to be the first person to fly over the North and South pole. According to believers, Byrd’s secret journal from 1947 included a report of flying into one of the Symmes Holes, and making contact with the race that lives inside the Earth.

Of course this too, has supposedly been covered up.

Through the mid-2000s and into the early 2010s, Cluff was actually a part of a long-gestating expedition known most recently as the North Pole Inner Earth Expedition. Unfortunately after a number of setbacks including backers and members of the team falling victim to calamities ranging from cancer to fatal plane crashes, the expedition was put on hiatus. Had the expedition been successful, the team would have chartered one of the world’s largest ice breaking ships straight to the North Pole, where they would have attempted to contact the denizens of the Hollow Earth through the hole they believed they would find.

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This artist's 3D painting will blow your mind

"For great art, you have to perceive the object, the situation, and watch the everyday lighting," 3D painter Stefan Pabst told Booooooom. "You have to see something like you did the very first time you saw it, with a complete open mind, like a child."

More on Pabst's Facebook page.

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Surprising history of the "Canadian Tuxedo," starring Bing Crosby

I've been known to sport a denim jacket and bluejeans with some regularity, making me the butt of my chums' "Canadian Tuxedo" barbs. Yet I never knew the origin of that phrase until now! Turns out that its origins may go much further back than the 2001 film "Super Troopers" that certainly fueled the phrase's popularity. According to Levi's:

In 1951, the world famous American crooner Bing Crosby was denied entrance into a Canadian hotel because he and his friend were dressed completely in denim. Although the Hotel management eventually recognized Bing and made an exception because of who he was, the story of the incident traveled fast. Friends of his back home contacted Levi Strauss and Co. and the designers immediately developed a custom denim tuxedo jacket for Bing so that he would never have problems wearing Levi’s Jeans, even in fancy establishments. It was made of the sturdy denim used for 501 Jeans, and decorated with a lovely corsage of Red Tabs, held onto the lapel with a cluster of shiny copper rivets.

Inside the jacket was a huge leather patch printed with a “Notice to All Hotel Men” stating that denim is a perfectly appropriate fabric and anyone wearing it should be allowed entrance into the finest hotels.

LS&Co presented the jacket to Bing at the 1951 Silver State Stampede in Elko, Nevada where he was honorary mayor. He was so tickled with the tux that he wore it to many press appearances for his next film, “Here Comes the Groom.” The original jacket, as well as one made for the town’s mayor, is in the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko.

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This guy is a great guitarist. And he has no hands.

Mark Goffeney has more musical talent in his big toe than I do in my entire body. The San Diego musician was born without arms and has studied guitar since he was eleven years old. This short film, "Hands Free," was directed and produced by Ross Harris and Stanley Gonzales.

And here is a 2010 profile of Goffeney in Ability magazine: "Armed with Talent"

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Harrison Ford can't, and fortunately won't, be replaced as Indiana Jones

The only thing that Disney seems certain about regarding any future Indiana Jones films is they don't plan on subbing in another actor as Indy.

“There are a lot of rumours,” the franchise's producer Frank Marshall says. “We haven’t even sat down to talk about Indy yet… at some point we’ll sit down. But there’s a bunch of people who could probably take the baton. … We’re not doing the Bond thing where we’re going to call somebody else Indiana Jones … we have to figure this out.”

Sorry, Chris Pratt. Mr. Ford, please put down the blaster and grab the bullwhip.

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See Disney princesses fall in love, with each other

Disney Princess Femslash by simonbaz (via BUST)

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When Miles Davis named his album Bitches Brew

Miles Just Called

"Please advise."

A letter sent to Columbia Records art director John Berg and others by Teo Macero, producer of Miles's revolutionary 1970 jazz fusion album. Below, a live performance of the title track "Bitches Brew."

(Thanks, Jordan Kurland!)

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Clips from Dish Network's "Pirate TV" scold channel (circa 2008)


"Hello, you're watching Dish Network's Pirate TV Channel."

Apparently only viewers with unauthorized access to Dish Network would see the "Pirate TV" channel that consisted of this message, looping forever.

Below, a version from around 2009: "Hello, you're watching Dish Network. Did you know you're a satellite pirate?"

(via r/ObscureMedia, thanks UPSO!)

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