Shoelace knots fail catastrophically, thanks to 7 gees' worth of stress

Update: Whoops, David got there first!

In a new paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, researchers from UC Berkeley reveal that shoelace knots do not gradualy come loose, as was previously supposed -- rather, they fail catastrophically and suddenly, thanks to strange and surprising stresses that they must endure. Read the rest

Dom Flemons, late of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, plays music that makes me very happy

I was listening to the latest Judge John Hodgman podcast today (as I do every week!) which was performed live in Washington DC; as with every live show, there was a musical guest, and this guest was so completely awesome I made a note to post about him when I got home. Read the rest

Machined sculpture with over 1,000 individually fabricated parts

Sculptor/machinist Chris Bathgate (previously) has just come off a year of making small, clever pieces, and as a palette cleanser, he's produced the most ambitious piece to ever emerge from his workshop: Sculpture BM 792314, with over 1,000 individually machined precise parts. Read the rest

Briggs Land: an eerily plausible version of our near future

Briggs Land is a complex, intelligent crime drama that is so American at its core, but a slice of America we rarely get to see. It would be topical at any time, but in our current political climate, it's frighteningly relevant.

Scratch-built hotrod lawnmower

Last year, Jeep2003 decided to frankenstein a new lawnmower using parts from an old snowblower, a smoker grille, and retro motorcycle-style fenders, detailing the build process on the Old Mini Bikes forums. The results are gorgeous: tail-lights, hood ornament, and all! Read the rest

How optimistic disaster stories can save us from dystopia

I've got an editorial in this month's Wired magazine about the relationship between the science fiction stories we read and our real-world responses to disasters: Disasters Don’t Have to End in Dystopias; it's occasioned by the upcoming publication of my "optimistic disaster novel" Walkaway (pre-order signed copies: US/UK; read excerpts: Chapter 1, Chapter 2; US/Canada tour schedule). Read the rest

Kickstarting improvements to Maria Del Camino, a "flying" El Camino with a drilled-out portrait of Metropolis's Maria

My friend and Burning Man campmate Bruce Tomb built the greatest art car I've ever seen: Maria Del Camino, made from the body of a '59 El Camino perforated by thousands of hand-drilled holes, which form a pointillist portrait of Maria, the robot from Metropolis, on the hood; connected via a hydraulic arm to the tanklike body of an industrial grader. Read the rest

Country Mike's Greatest Hits: when the Beasties recorded a C&W album

In 1999, the Beastie Boys privately recorded a gag country and western album called "Country Mike's Greatest Hits": as C&W albums go, it's pretty good!

Country Mike's Greatest Hits is the legendary full-length country album recorded by the Beastie Boys. Never officially released, it was originally only given out to family and friends of the Beasties as a Christmas gift back in 1999, and bootlegs started showing up a few years later. It has proven to be a very hot collectible, supposedly fetching as much as $400 on eBay.

The only official reference to the album appears on the Beastie Boys compilation The Sounds of Science, which also includes two songs, "Railroad Blues" and "Country Mike's Theme". In the liner notes, Adam Yauch explains:

"At some point after Ill Communication came out, Mike got hit in the head by a large foreign object and lost all of his memory. As it started coming back he believed that he was a country singer named Country Mike. The psychologists told us that if we didn't play along with Mike's fantasy, he could be in grave danger. Finally he came back to his senses. This song ("Railroad Blues") is one of the many that we made during that tragic period of time."

(via Neatorama) Read the rest

Vacuum chamber vs giant gummi-marshmallow

Youtube has democratized the practice of using expensive industrial and scientific apparatus to torment inanimate objects, giving us all a peek into the world of the lucky few who happen to have a hydraulic press gathering dust; but if you thing compressing things is fun, wait until you've seen recreational decompression in action; as with this giant gummi-bear-shaped marshmallow, being subjected to hard vac in the name of science-adjacent fun. (via Neatorama) Read the rest

Self-study materials on the fundamentals of malware analysis

Amanda Rousseau's self-learning materials for her Malware Unicorn workshop are a fantastic introduction to understanding and analyzing malware, covering the techniques used by malware authors, reverse-engineering tools, and three kinds of analysis: triage, static and dynamic. Read the rest

Famous Monsters of Filmland's 1965 guide to home monster makeup

The Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-Up Handbook is a 1965 classic: Famous Monsters of Filmland founder Forrest Ackerman tapped movie makeup legend Dick Smith to create guides for turning yourself into any of three Martians, two kinds of werewolf, a "weird-oh," a "derelict," a ghoul, a mummy, Frankenstein's monster, Quasimodo, Mr Hyde, "split face," and more. Read the rest

Award-winning robot rappers perform "Robot's Delight"

These Japanese robots' performance of "Robot's Delight" -- an extended, braggadocios riff on the state of AI learning-through-imitation research, with break-dancing -- won Best Video at the 2017 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction. (via 4 Short Links) Read the rest

Solid State: Jonathan Coulton's album/graphic novel against nicey-nice fascism

Jonathan Coulton is known for a myriad of distinct accomplishments. The tech professional-turned-musician once conducted a Thing a Week experiment, in which he recorded and published a new song every Friday for a year, produced a cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" infamously adopted by the Fox series Glee, regularly contributes to the NPR quiz show "Ask Me Another" as its very own one-man band, and runs his own fan cruise aptly called the JoCo Cruise.

A climbable personal library in an old elevator shaft

Studio North was commissioned to refit an old elevator shaft in a converted warehouse loft in Calgary; they built a tall, narrow library with climbable shelves whose hand- and foot-holds retract into the shelving. Read the rest

Libretaxi: a free, open, cash-only alternative to Uber, for the rest of the world

Libretaxi is an open source project that lets anyone become a rideshare driver in less than a minute; it has more than 20,000 users worldwide, and is maintained by Roman Pushkin, who started the project in December 2016 and is now planning to quit his job and work on it full time. Read the rest

A doll designed to bend into the whole alphabet

Mister Alphabet is an action-figure designed to cleverly bend and contort into every letter of the Latin alphabet; the website is long on trademark warnings and arty Instagram photos, but short on details, like, "Is this an object of commerce?" and "If so, where does one buy it?" (via Kottke) Read the rest

Desperate John Deere tractor owners are downloading illegal Ukrainian firmware hacks to get the crops in

John Deere is notorious for arguing that farmers who buy its tractors actually "license" them because Deere still owns the copyright to the tractors' software; in 2015, the US Copyright Office affirmed that farmers were allowed to jailbreak their tractors to effect repairs and modifications. Read the rest

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