Sending your video camera around the sushi conveyor

Ella sez, "A friend of mine asked to put her camera on the conveyor belt at a local kaiten sushi restaurant. People's reactions as they discover that they're being filmed are fairly humorous."

Kaiten (conveyor) sushi time in real Japan

(Thanks, Ella!) Read the rest

Geeky phototour of Shenzhen

I'm really taken with hardware hacker Tom Igoe's photoset from his geek tour of Shenzhen, the legendary high-tech city that borders Hong Kong. Tom really captures a wide swath of the city, from the shacks to the circuit boards -- the faces as well as the factories.

Shenzen, China, Feb 08 Read the rest

Making the bed -- authority, parenting, play and work

On the Taking Children Seriously blog, a fantastic parable about making the bed, authority, reactionarism, play and work:

So I started making my bed in the morning. Now I didn't have to do it at night, and as a bonus, it looked nice all day! For a while I had mixed feelings about this, though. I'd mutter in my head, Yeah, yeah, Dad, OK, it's best to make the bed in the morning, you were right, now shut up.

Later I started muttering stuff like: Think you're so smart, Dad? Can you imagine if you'd just waited it out, never mentioning bed-making ever when I was young? I probably would have started making my bed in the morning long before this, with no prompting at all, and you could have come to my first apartment and seen my nicely made bed, and then you'd have seen how well I turned out and how I didn't need all the nagging to get that way. Oh, but then you'd have been unable to pat yourself on the back for having trained me that way, so I guess you wouldn't have like that so well after all.

Later still, I thought something more like, Well, regardless, your issues are your own, Dad, and I guess I can't know. I like making my bed in the morning. Guess that's all there is to it.

Eventually I guess I stopped talking to my dad in my head quite so much around bed-making time. And many years passed.

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Lost nose-brassieres of 1930

Physical Culture Magazine's Aug, 1930 issue carried this intriguing advert for a nose brassiere ("the patented Model 25 Nose Shaper") that would help you by "remolding the cartilage and fleshy parts, quickly, safely, and painlessly." Coming from a long line of beaky sorts, I find this frankly captivating!

How to Obtain A Better Looking Nose (Aug, 1930)

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Ryanair's coin-op emergency masks and slides (joke)

B3ta user "The Coast Of Yemen" responds to the news that shitty discount airline Ryanair is contemplating in-flight pay toilets with a revised seatpocket safety card that lists the coin-op tariffs for emergency masks and slides.

Ryanair Card

Previously: Ryanair wants to charge for using the toilet in-flight - Boing Boing Ryanair will fine passengers who board with too much carry-on ... Judge to RyanAir: no valuables in checked bags? Bull! - Boing Boing Read the rest

Brain Harvest: super-short, mind-bending sf for the attenuated 21st century attention-span

Eden Robins, one of my talented Clarion West students, writes,

Brain Harvest will feature the best snappy, bad-ass speculative fiction pieces we can find in 750 words or less. These will be available on our website, where readers can also subscribe to have the stories delivered to their mobile device of choice. We figure a lot of reading is happening in non-traditional ways - people have five minutes while they're waiting for their cheeseburgers and might just enjoy the chance to read something interesting on their iPhones. We aim to fill the time between the ordering and the cheeseburger-eating, and we publish the kinds of stories we'd like to read in these interstitial moments.

Right now we're publishing once a week, but we plan to fill the gaps with more content - quick and pithy movie and book reviews, content inspired by ideas expressed in the stories, and in the future, interviews, podcasts, and an interactive community of readers and writers.

We're hoping to raise money to pay our writers pro-rates by donation ($10 or more gets you a free homemade mustache!) and by offering our critiquing services for fiction writers and coming soon, the Feed-A-Writer program, where you can adopt a writer, Sally Struthers-style, and get a photo of the little rascal and a personalized thank you letter in return.

First up on our maiden voyage is highly-decorated author Nick Mamatas.

Brain Harvest

(Thanks, Eden!) Read the rest

Bruce Sterling on Web 2.0

Bruce Sterling's Webstock talk on Web 2.0 has a whole crapload of incredibly insightful stuff in it, and ends on a note that makes me want to go to the barricades:

That's the key Web 2.0 insight: "the web as a platform."

Okay, "webs" are not "platforms." I know you're used to that idea after five years, but consider taking the word "web" out, and using the newer sexy term, "cloud." "The cloud as platform." That is insanely great. Right? You can't build a "platform" on a "cloud!" That is a wildly mixed metaphor! A cloud is insubstantial, while a platform is a solid foundation! The platform falls through the cloud and is smashed to earth like a plummeting stock price!

Imagine that this was financial thinking -- instead of web design thinking. We take a bunch of loans, we mash them together and turn them into a security. Now securities are secure, right? They are triple-A solid! So now we can build more loans on top of those securities. Ingenious! This means the price of credit trends to zero, so the user base expands radically, so everybody can have credit! v Nobody could have tried that before, because that sounds like a magic Ponzi scheme. But luckily, we have computers in banking now. That means Moore's law is gonna save us! Instead of it being really obvious who owes what to whom, we can have a fluid, formless ownership structure that's always in permanent beta. As long as we keep moving forward, adding attractive new features, the situation is booming!

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Reconstructing the genome of the earliest mammal

Ian Holmes is a brilliant bioinformatics hacker at UC Berkeley (and also an active happy mutant in our BB community). A few years ago, I wrote about Ian's efforts to apply Noam Chomsky's theories about language to the firehose of genetic data spewing from the multitude of DNA sequencing efforts going on these days. Ian just emailed me about his latest research in the mind-blowing area of "paleogenetics." He writes:

Thought you might be interested to know that we & our collaborators recently put together a DNA sequence for the earliest mammal genome, 75 million years old.

Sure, it's full of holes, but it's the first time anyone's done it on this scale!

This whole field, known as "paleogenetics", is really taking off. On the experimental side, you might have heard about the recent sequencing of the Neanderthal and the woolly mammoth.

The cool thing is that you can get a lot of information about ancestral genomes just by crunching probabilities -- even if you don't have any fossils, or mosquitos-trapped-in-amber, or time machines, or whatever.

The even cooler thing (to my bioinformatics-geek mind) is that the algorithms used for this are almost exactly the same ones that linguists use to reconstruct ancient languages, like "Indo-European" or "Gondwanese".

It's only a matter of time before we can actually synthesize these paleogenetic reconstructions. A very short time, according to the Carlson Curves (the Moore's Law of DNA synthesis). Which, of course, has its issues (I am currently trying to reconstruct viruses...

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Slumdog Millionaire Final Dance Scene "Corrected" at last to "Peanut Butter Jelly Time"

I was just idly goofing around on Twitter for a few rounds with some friends last night and somehow this happened. And by "happened," I mean Kent Nichols made it. I honestly don't see how the earlier "uncorrected" version won that Oscar, this is SO much better.

Peanut Butter Jelly Time Slumdog Millionaire Mashup (YouTube thanks Kent Nichols!) and here's the origin of the internet meme reference. And as BB commenter NYLUND points out, "Her yellow scarf does make it look like she is wearing a banana costume in the wide angle shots." Read the rest

The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers

Fantagraphics has just released an anthology of one of the wackiest comic book artists and writers ever, Boody Rogers. His feverishly surreal comics from the 1940s paved the way for the underground artists of the 1960s. When I read these stories, filled with crazy-looking beasts and absurd situations, the thing that stuck out in my mind was how much fun Rogers must have had while drawing them.

You've met Fletcher Hanks . Now meet Boody Rogers! Fans of Boody Rogers' Golden age comic-book stories span generations of cartoonists, from Robert Williams to Art Spiegelman to Johnny Ryan. Spiegelman printed Rogers' work in RAW magazine and recently it also appeared in the anthology book Art Out of Time: Unknown Comic Visionaries (Abrams). Here at last is a single book - Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers - devoted to this cult comics hero, collecting Roger's best Sparky Watts , Babe and Dudley stories, as well as much more. This beautifully designed tome also has tons of vintage photos and unpublished art (including art from the first modern newsstand comic book that Rogers did in 1935). It all begins with a career spanning fun and fascinating interview with the late Rogers, by editor Craig Yoe (Arf).

Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers Read the rest

William S. Burroughs shopping lists on eBay

Someone is selling writer William S. Burroughs's shopping lists on eBay. How odd. While the lists do contain cat-related items, reflecting Burroughs's fondness for felines, they'd be more interesting artifacts if they also included, say, shotgun shells, scissors, bug spray, and morphine syrettes. BuyItNow price is $495. From the auction description:

Page 1: Items written by Burroughs - 1. Cat Pans. 5. Limes & lemons. 6. Dry Cat Food. 7. Canned Cat Food - Mealtime, bits of beef - salmon dinner. There are 4 items written on the back and none are by Burroughs

Page 2: Items written by Burroughs - 1. Waffles (plain buttermilk). 2. Triscuits. 3. Cat Food Canned. 4. Vodka - last but not least 5. Marshmallow for toasting over stove (?) last word is a guess - hard to read. There are 4 items written on the back - Burroughs has written "Lysol."

Page 3: Items written by Burroughs - 1. Lemons and lime. 2. Milk. 3. Bottled water. 4. Honey (crossed out). 5. Lipton tea bags (the brisk tea). There are 4 items written on the back but none are written by Burroughs.

William S. Burroughs Authentic Grocery Shopping List Read the rest

Pi Day ice-cube trays

Marylin sez, "Pi Day's coming up March 14 and here's an ice tray to impress your friends and colleagues at your Pi Day party."

Pi Symbol Ice Cube Trays

(Thanks, Marylin!) Read the rest