This is the world's largest musical instrument


The Wanamaker Organ, inside a Philadelphia, PA Macy's, is the world's largest working musical instrument.

The Wanamaker Grand Court Organ at Macy’s is a 7-story-high contraption bigger than most people’s houses, even rich people’s. The vast maze of 26,677 pipes and baffles and bellows and wires and wooden stairways lies hidden behind what many of us have always thought was the Wanamaker Organ.

(YouTube/Philadelphia Daily News, via Digg)

Read the rest

Gardner Dozois is selling his book collection

The celebrated and decorated anthologist and editor (that's him on the right, with me and Gene Wolfe) who served at Asimov's for decades is selling off his massive collection, which he hopes to keep intact. Read the rest

Mobile ad

Philadelphia schools have $5/student/year for supplies

"Education reform," the charter school movement (that siphons state funding for well-off kids into private hands), the racialized segregation of inner-city and suburban school districts, No Child Left Behind, and the scapegoating of teachers' unions has produced an education system that hardly even qualifies as a 12-year babysitting service. Read the rest

Help wanted: crypto-usability research director & ops manager

Simply Secure, a nonprofit developing usable, free, open interfaces for cryptographic communications tools like OTR, is hiring! Read the rest

MGM shuts down volunteer "Rocky" charity run

The Philadelphia run, which recreates a scene from Rocky II, raises money to buy sneakers for a charity; MGM has seen its success and has partnered with a for-profit company to launch a non-charitable version and now has clobbered the volunteers to clear away competition. Read the rest

Gloriously complexified necktie-tying machine

Seth Goldstein's Why Not machine is a glorious Rube Goldberg device that can tie (and untie) a necktie. It's a kinetic sculpture, slow and beautiful and inefficient in a way that can only be called artistic. It's headed for exhibition at the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia. Its inventor, a retired engineer, revels in its unuselessness: "That's not something you can economically justify, but if you're a retiree, you don't have to worry about that anymore. I'm free!" Read the rest

Philadelphia's Hacktory hackerspace is looking for artists-in-residence

Lee writes, "Philadelphia's Hacktory has just announced its Call For Artists for its new Unknown Territory Fellowship and Artist-In-Residency." Read the rest

Mobile ad

Girl, 7, brought into pepper-spray fight

Stephanie Farr, at

A woman who had been banned from an Upper Darby dollar store doused store employees with pepper spray as they tried to escort her out on Monday, and when they tackled her to the ground, she gave the spray can to her 7-year-old daughter and told her to finish the fight, police said. "You know what to do, baby. Spray it!", Delaina Garling allegedly told her daughter.

Read the rest

La Colombe Cold Brew: jet fuel in a beer bottle

My hosts at last night's signing at Philadelphia's Indy Hall co-working space did a lot to make me welcome, but most of all, they supplied me with rocket-fuel. The fuel took the form of a bottle of La Colombe Pure Black Cold Brew, a deceptively smooth, dark, chocolately cold-brew coffee that comes in a 12oz beer bottle. Deceptively smooth because this stuff is, as noted, pure rocket-fuel. They gave me a bottle for the road that I cracked in my hotel room this morning before heading to DC, and it practically had me plastered to the ceiling, despite its mellow flavor, and in a very good way.

I drink a lot of cold-brew on the road (I use the radical hotel-room coffee independence method to make cold-brew in breast-milk bags that I put in the minibar fridge overnight) but La Colombe was a cut above even the excellent stuff I make myself.

Pure Black Cold Brew Read the rest

Kids' librarian literary sleeve tattoo

Today I stopped in at the Whitman Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library to participate in the Field Family Teen Author Series, which distributes books to teens, then brings their authors in to speak about them. The kids' librarian at the branch was the brilliant Heather Warren, who's overseen a total overhaul of the way kids' services are provided at her branch. She also has a completely awesome kids'-literature-inspired sleeve tattoo (done by Bird of the Black Vulture Gallery, which she graciously allowed me to photograph and post here. Thanks, Heather! (And thanks to the Aurora and the folks from the Fields Series and the kids who came down, too!)

See the full set Read the rest

Cory in Philly tonight

I'm heading to Philly today for an event at Indy Hall, co-sponsored by the awesome Geekadelphia and the Hive76 hackerspace. From there I go to Bethesda, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Toronto, then, finally, Boston! Here's the schedule, looking forward to seeing you! Read the rest

Advertising supplement from 1880: sweet typography

Advertising supplements were a lot more fun to look at in 1880. Submitted as evidence: this issue of the Philadelphia Grocer.

If you have a thing for typography Read the rest

High-rez scan of Einstein's brain slide from Philadelphia's Mütter Museum

Last week, I toured Philadelphia's Mütter Museum -- the Philadelphia College of Surgeons' astounding collection of pathological oddities -- and was treated to a sneak peak at the museum's latest acquisition: 46 microscope slides from Albert Einstein's brain. They were donated by Dr. Lucy Rorke-Adams, one of the College's trustees. Mütter curator Anna Dhody was kind enough to scan one of the slides at high resolution for us, and you can click through the image above to get it at full rez. The slides are now part of the Mütter's permanent collection, and are just another reason to visit this remarkable collection.

The slides were prepared in 1955 in the pathology lab of Dr. William Ehrich, Chief of Pathology at the Philadelphia General Hospital and the Graduate School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. Five sets of slides were prepared in the lab, one set was given to Dr. Ehrich by Thomas Harvey, MD, the physician who performed the post-mortem exam on Einstein at Princeton Hospital.

After Dr. Ehrich died in 1967, his widow gave them to Allen Steinberg, MD. Dr. Steinberg gave them to Lucy Rorke-Adams, MD, Senior Neuropathologist, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Clinical Professor of Pathology, Neurology and Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, and a longtime Fellow of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Mütter Museum Read the rest

Cory in Philly

A reminder: I'm giving a free lecture tonight at 17h at the Wharton School in Philadelphia; I'm in town because I'm the guest of honor at PhilCon, the world's oldest science fiction convention. Read the rest

Cory in Philly, DC

I'm headed to Philadelphia next week to be the guest of honor at PhilCon (Nov 18-20), and while I'm in the area, I'm giving a free talk at the Wharton School at UPenn (Nov 17, 5PM). On my way home, I'm stopping in DC to give a lunchtime talk at the New America Foundation on Nov 22 (details TBD). Hope to see you there! Read the rest