Umberto Eco, 1932-2016

eco

Umberto Eco, the Italian philosopher, writer and semiotics professor, is dead at 84, reports the BBC.

Eco is most famous as the author of elaborate historical novels such as The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum, but my favorite is his book of shorts, Misreadings.

From it, here is his summary of the Bible, presented as an internal memo at a publishing house written by an editor rejecting the manuscript.

The Bible:

I must say that the first few hundred pages of this manuscript really hooked me. Action-packed, they have everything today's reader wants in a good story. Sex (lots of it, including adultery, sodomy, incest), also murder, war, massacres, and so on.

The Sodom and Gomorrah chapter, with the tranvestites putting the make on the angels, is worthy of Rabelais; the Noah stories are pure Jules Verne; the escape from Egypt cries out to be turned into a major motion picture . . . In other words, a real blockbuster, very well structured, with plenty of twists, full of invention, with just the right amount of piety, and never lapsing into tragedy.

But as I kept on reading, I realized that this is actually an anthology, involving several writers, with many--too many--stretches of poetry, and passages that are downright mawkish and boring, and jeremiads that make no sense.

The end result is a monster omnibus. It seems to have something for everybody, but ends up appealing to nobody. And acquiring the rights from all these different authors will mean big headaches, unless the editor takes care of that himself.

Read the rest

Bomb shelters as underground farms

Underground the city of London are eight massive bomb shelters like the one pictured above that have been empty or used as document storage for more than 50 years. Now, one of them is being transformed into a subterranean farm. The farming group, called Zero Carbon Food, based their system on hydroponics and LED light powered by wind-generated electricity.

"When I first met these guys I thought they were absolutely crazy, but when I visited the tunnels and sampled the delicious produce they are already growing down there I was blown away," says two Michelin star chef Michel Roux Jr.

"Would You Eat a Salad Grown in a Bomb Shelter?" (Smithsonian) Read the rest

IKEA selling solar panels

IKEA has now started selling solar panels in the UK. According the Associated Press, "a standard, all-black 3.36 kilowatt system for a semi-detached home will cost 5,700 British pounds ($9,200) and will include an in-store consultation and design service as well as installation, maintenance and energy monitoring service." Feel free to suggest funny faux-Swedish product names in the comments. Read the rest

Reusable lid turns canning jar into travel mug

Cuppow is a a reusable lid that turns a glass canning jar into a travel mug. They have versions for regular and wide mouth glass jars. It's made in the USA from BPA-free, Phthalate-free plastic. What a great idea! Amazon has the regular mouth size for $8; you supply the jar. Cuppow Regular and Cuppow Wide Mouth Read the rest

Animal sculptures from thrift store plastic

Sayaka Ganz creates marvelous animal sculptures from plastic crap she picks up at thrift stores. "Sayaka Ganz: Reclaimed Creations" (via Juxtapoz) Read the rest

2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year: Tesla S

For the first time ever, the winner of the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year is not powered by an internal combustion engine; it is the all-electric Tesla S. Not surprisingly, Motor Trend is also spinning the news as a big win for American innovation. "2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year: Tesla Model S" Read the rest

New "snub-nosed" monkey species discovered, killed, eaten

Photograph: Ngwe Lwin via National Geographic. Killed for food, an R. strykeri monkey is displayed in Myanmar in early 2010.

The only scientifically observed specimen of a newly discovered monkey species in Myanmar (Burma) was killed by local hunters by the time researchers found it. Shortly thereafter, it was eaten.

This species of monkey in fact so snub-nosed that it is said to sneeze uncontrollably when it rains. But "Snubby" has far greater problems than the sniffles.

Local demand for monkey flesh as a food source is one of many reasons the species is endangered; habitat destruction by Chinese logging companies is a big threat, which in turn leads to more hunting: no forest means fewer barriers to tracking and killing these beautiful, vulnerable beasts.

Read more here at National Geographic News.

(via Submitterator, thanks, Ted and Marilyn Terrell) Read the rest

Gentleman lives on floating plastic bottle island home

Mr. "Rishi" Sowa lives on an floating island. That he made. From empty plastic bottles and a few mangrove plants. In Mexico.

From the blog:

From 1998 to 2005, Rishi Sowa hand-built and lived on the first Spiral Island, which floated on over 300,000 recycled bottles! It was destroyed by Hurricane Emily in 2005. Rishi has now built an even better island at Isla Mujeres, Mexico, in a lagoon which offers shelter from bad weather! Rishi will continue to make improvements to the Island, so it will always be a eco-work-of-art in progress!

YouTube video by The Resident.

There's an online community of "Spiral Islanders" here.

(via BB Submitterator, thanks EeyoreX)

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