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I love Bruce Sterling's "Design Fiction Slider-Bar of Disbelief," a list of fictions in ascending order of credibility:
9.4 New age crystals, lucky charms, protective pendants, mojo hands, voodoo dolls, magic wands
9.3 Quack devices, medical hoaxes
9.3 Fantasy “objects” in fantasy cinema and computer-games
9.2 Physically impossible sci-fi literary devices: time machines, humanoid robots
9.2 Perpetual motion machines; free-energy gizmos, other physically impossible engineering fantasies
9.0 State libels, black propaganda, military ruses; missile gaps, vengeance weapons, Star Wars SDI
8.9 “Realplay” services, “experiential futurism” encounters, military and emergency training drills, props and immersive set-design, scripted personas
8.8 Online roleplaying scenario games
8.7 Net.art interventions, diegetic performance art, provocative device-art scandals
8.6 Guerrilla street-theater; costumes, puppets, banners, songs, lynchings-in-effigy, mock trials, mass set-designed Nuremberg rallies, propaganda trains
8.5 Fake products, product forgeries, theft-of-services, con-schemes, 419 frauds
Spoiler alert: the list ends with these:
1.0 Engineering specifications, software code
0.5 Historical tech assessment of extinct technologies, the “judgement of history’
0.0 The ideal and unobtainable “objective truth” about objects and services
Jeff Baham from HauntedMansion.com sez, "March 30 marked the centennial of the birth of Marc Davis, one of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men" who was responsible for both the creation of some of Disney's iconic characters (Tinker Bell, Maleficent) and iconic theme park attractions (Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion). The Mousetalgia podcast is noting the life and work of Davis with a special episode dedicated to his career, including a never-published interview with Davis himself and a recent conversation with his widow and fellow Disney Imagineer, Alice Davis. Of special note are Marc and Alice's recollections about Marc joining the Disney Studio in the '20s, where he worked on Snow White."
From Wikipedia: "English: A large wheeled Assyrian battering ram with an observation turret attacks the collapsing walls of a besieged city, while archers on both sides exchange fire. From the North-West Palace at Nimrud, about 865-860 BC; now in the British Museum."
File:Assyrian battering ram.jpg (Thanks, Justin!)
US currency was beautiful, once upon a time, when it sported images of animals and symbolic statuary, rather than deifying its citizen-rulers by putting presidents on the money as though they were kings. This 1901 $10 note (available on Wikimedia Commons in a 33.34MB, 6,454 × 5,784 JPEG!) is a case in point.
United States $10 Banknote, Legal Tender, Series of 1901 (Fr. Ref#114), depicting Meriwether Lewis and William Clark of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. The central portrait is a depiction of an American bison. Part of the National Numismatic Collection, NMAH, Smithsonian Institution. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
Sodajerker, a British podcast devoted to songwriting, produced a great one-hour episode with Disney songwriting legend Richard M Sherman, half of the Sherman Brothers team that gave us everything from "It's a Small World" to "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" (and lots more). Hearing Sherman talk about his work is fascinating.
As one half of The Sherman Brothers, along with his late brother Robert, Richard M. Sherman is responsible for co-writing the most memorable Disney songs of all time. From the Academy Award winning compositions for Mary Poppins such as ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’, ‘Feed the Birds’, ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’, ‘Jolly Holiday’, ‘I Love to Laugh’ and ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’, to other landmark Disney works such as The Parent Trap, ‘It’s a Small World (After All)’, ‘I Wanna Be Like You’ (The Jungle Book), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Aristocats, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Winnie the Pooh, the Sherman Brothers have enchanted people of all ages for half a century. In this hour of conversation, Richard M. Sherman joins Simon and Brian to talk through the writing of many of these classics in his own inimitable style.
Here's Death and Taxes's collection of 18 obsolete words that would be handy (or at least funny) to use today, compiled by Carmel Lobello from a book called The Word Museum and a blog called Obsolete Word of the Day. Some of my favorites:
Snoutfair: A person with a handsome countenance — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk
Groak: To silently watch someone while they are eating, hoping to be invited to join them – www.ObsoleteWord.Blogspot.com
Spermologer: A picker-up of trivia, of current news, a gossip monger, what we would today call a columnist — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk
Jirble: To pour out (a liquid) with an unsteady hand: as, he jirbles out a dram — www.Wordnik.com
The Pyramids of Giza close to tourists at 4:00 pm. Recently, a group of Russians managed to hide out at the site after closing time and scramble up the Great Pyramid of Cheops in the fading light. Naturally, they took photos. (Because if there is one thing the Internet has taught me about Russians, it's that they like to climb to dangerous heights and then take photos.)
These shots are kind of fabulous, not just for the thrill of "yeah, somebody broke the rules!", but because of the perspective you get from on high that isn't visible in the many ground-level shots I've seen. From on top of the Pyramid, you can see how the stone is pockmarked and carved — it really looks like something humans cut out of the Earth. You can also see the graffiti left by generations of tourists in multiple languages; English, Arabic, French, and more. And you can see the edge of the modern city, shimmering just at the horizon. I don't think I'd previously had such a profound sense of how closely modern Egyptians lived and worked to the Great Pyramid, before. What a fascinating view!
Thanks to Steve Silberman for the link!
Matt Novak (aka Paleofuture) is a historian and blogger who writes about the history of innovation and the history of the way we imagine the future. A couple of weeks ago, at South by Southwest, he gave a fascinating presentation that I wanted you guys to hear more about.
The basic thesis: Tesla vs. Edison — UR DOIN IT WRONG.
Whether you think Tesla > Edison or Edison > Tesla, Novak says you're missing something important. In reality, technology isn't shaped by one guy who had one great idea and changed the world. Instead, it's a messy process, full of flat-out failures and not-quite-successes, and populated by many great minds who build off of and are inspired by each other's work. This is about more than just getting history right. Letting go of The Great Man paradigm has implications for everything from copyright law, to how we go about innovation today. When we focus too much on Great Men, Novak says, we lose sight of what innovation actually looks like ... and we impede our ability to build the future.
You can listen to my interview with Matt Novak here, or download it at Soundcloud.