• Lovely early versions of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Our House" and "Déjà vu"

    Next month sees the release of a deluxe edition of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's iconic album Déjà vu that includes outtakes and early demos of these seminal songs. To tease us, the group have released the stunning early version of "Our House" (above) and a demo (below) of the title track. Also below, the demo for Neil Young's "Birds," recorded with Graham Nash during the Déjà vu sessions.

  • Einstein's desk and what it suggests about clutter and intelligence

    This photo of Albert Einstein's desk depicts his office exactly as he left it before his death in 1955. Is there a link between being messy and creative, clutter and intelligence? Causation or correlation? Researchers have explored this very issue but, mostly, I just wanted to post the wonderful photo of Einstein's desk. From Entrepreneur:

    Research published in Psychological Science has good news for messy-deskers. Scientist Kathleen Vohs and a team at the University of Minnesota found that both clean and messy workspaces have their own unique perks. 

    In this series of experiments, participants were seated at a desk that was either clean or messy, then asked to answer survey questions and make various decisions. Participants seated at a messy desk generated more creative ideas during a brainstorming exercise. They also chose new or novel products over established ones when presented with options.

    In contrast, those seated at clean desks behaved more conventionally, doing that was expected of them. When presented with either an apple or piece of chocolate for a snack, for example, participants seated at clean desks chose the healthy snack more frequently.

    It's a chicken-or-the-egg scenario that invites us to consider the type of thinking we want to cultivate.

    (via Daily Grail)

  • Scientists develop the whitest paint ever

    Ultra-white is the new Vantablack. Purdue University researchers developed the whitest white paint ever. It reflects 98.1% of sunlight. (The blackest black paint, Vantablack, absorbs 99.9% of visible light.) According to lead researcher Xiulin Ruan, "f you were to use this paint to cover a roof area of about 1,000 square feet, we estimate that you could get a cooling power of 10 kilowatts. That's more powerful than the central air conditioners used by most houses." From Purdue:

    Two features give the paint its extreme whiteness. One is the paint's very high concentration of a chemical compound called barium sulfate, which is also used to make photo paper and cosmetics white.

    "We looked at various commercial products, basically anything that's white," said Xiangyu Li, a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who worked on this project as a Purdue Ph.D. student in Ruan's lab. "We found that using barium sulfate, you can theoretically make things really, really reflective, which means that they're really, really white."

    The second feature is that the barium sulfate particles are all different sizes in the paint. How much each particle scatters light depends on its size, so a wider range of particle sizes allows the paint to scatter more of the light spectrum from the sun.

    "A high concentration of particles that are also different sizes gives the paint the broadest spectral scattering, which contributes to the highest reflectance," said Joseph Peoples, a Purdue Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering.

    There is a little bit of room to make the paint whiter, but not much without compromising the paint.

    "Although a higher particle concentration is better for making something white, you can't increase the concentration too much. The higher the concentration, the easier it is for the paint to break or peel off," Li said[…]

    The paint's solar reflectance is so effective, it even worked in the middle of winter. During an outdoor test with an ambient temperature of 43 degrees Fahrenheit, the paint still managed to lower the sample temperature by 18 degrees Fahrenheit.

    "An infrared image shows how a sample of the 'whitest paint' (the dark purple square in the middle) cools the board below ambient temperature." (Photograph: Joseph Peoples/Purdue University)

    top photo: Jared Pike/Purdue University

  • Joey Ramone biopic to star Saturday Night Live's Pete Davidson

    On yesterday's 20th anniversary of Joey Ramone's death comes word that Saturday Night Live's Pete Davidson will play Joey in a new biopic—"I Slept With Joey RamoneÆ—coming to Netflix. The film, authorized by Joey Ramone's estate, is based on the memoir of the same name written by Ramone's brother Mickey Leigh. Jason Orley (Big Time Adolescence) will direct. Gil Kaufman writes in Billboard:

    "When you share a bed with someone — and not just a bed, but a childhood, a family, and a lifetime — you know that person better than anybody else," STXfilms chairman Adam Fogelson said in a statement. "Mickey Leigh not only collaborated with his big brother's band — he has irreplaceable memories of and insights into Joey Ramone, having supported him when no one else would and witnessed him overcome adversity in the most dramatic way. I Slept with Joey Ramone is a great rock anthem that will make an equally great rock biopic, set apart by a universal story of family. Pete is perfect for this role and we're excited he and Jason will be bringing this icon of rock to life and thrilled to be collaborating once again with our friends at Netflix."

    Though he originally played drums, 6'6" Joey switched to vocals early on, quickly establishing his iconic stage presence — one foot planted firmly forward, one hand tightly gripping the mic, floppy hair covering his face and his eyes shaded by rose-colored glasses. And always, always a leather jacket matched with ripped jeans, and his growly vocals about pinheads, punk rockers, glue-sniffers and other misunderstood miscreants.

  • Absolutely massive smalltooth sawfish washed up in Florida

    This 16 foot-long smalltooth sawfish washed up in the Florida Keys. This specimen is the largest of its kind ever measured by scientists. It's not known how the animal died. From LiveScience:

    Sawfish have been on the [Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation] Commissions' research radar since 2003, when they were added to the U.S. federal endangered species list. (All five species of sawfish are also listed as endangered or critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.) 

    Sawfishes are a kind of ray fish known for their flat, chainsaw-like snouts. Little was known about them before their endangered species listing, (FWC biologist Gregg) Poulakis said.

    "Basically, any question you could ask — 'How big do they get?; what kind of habitat do they need?; how long do they live' — we just didn't have an answer," he said.

    image: FWC

  • Watch Newsmax host Greg Kelly, formerly of Fox News, ogle and talk lecherously on live TV about his co-worker in a bathing suit (2014)

    In 2014, Fox 5 New York TV news reporter Anna Gilligan reported from the re-opening of the infamous Action Park. She wore a bathing suit to ride a zipline into the pool. Back in the studio, Greg Kelly—who went on to fame on Fox News and now Newsmax TV—couldn't control himself even as his co-host encouraged him to show some respect and shut the hell up.

  • Fantastic! and amazing! hand-drawn superhero logos from vintage comics

    Designer Reagan Ray recently developed an interest in comic books via his son. Naturally, Reagan was drawn to the hand-drawn superhero logos of vintage comics. "Like most lettering, right around the late 90s, it all went to shit," he writes. "The hand-lettering masterpieces were abandoned for fonts and photoshop effects." He's curated a wonderful collection of hand-drawn Marvel comics logos.

    "I've decided to break it down into manageable chunks, starting with what I find to be the most popular – Marvel superheroes," Ray writes. "These don't include teams, duos, or villains. And obviously, nothing from DC. Hopefully, if this post is popular enough, it will be an excuse to do more." 

    (via Kottke)

  • Batman guards police station in Everett, Washington

    In October, thieves in Everett, Washington smashed the window of a comic book store and swiped a 4.5 foot Funko Pop! statue of Batman. Since then, Everett Police detective Adam Gage has relentlessly investigated the case hoping to locate this idol honoring the Dark Knight who, of course, made his debut in Detective Comics. Almost six months later, Gage found Batman. As the comic shop has already been paid by their insurance company for the loss, their policy apparently precludes them from retrieving the statue. So for now, Batman stands guard at the police station. From Q13Fox:

    The break came when a man contacted Everett Police after he purchased the statue from a man in Lynnwood who was selling items out of a van. Detective Gage says the crook cut off the Funko base to try to disguise Batman. He has some scuffs and scratches on him, but is otherwise okay[…]

    Detective Gage says he has identified a 'person of interest' and is continuing to investigate both suspects. They are working to gather enough evidence to send to the prosecutor's office for criminal charges.

  • Colorado auctioning off vanity plates "GANJA" and "BONG"

    The State of Colorado is auctioning off personalized license plates with cannabis references. If you live in Colorado and love weed so much you want to announce it to the world, the plates "BONG," "GANJA," "HASH," and "SATIVA" can now be yours. All proceeds will go to the Colorado Disability Funding Committee. Right now, ISIT420 has the highest bid of them all at $6,610. From 9News:

    Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) applauded this effort in a news release, saying the state is "proud of its creativity and ingenuity." Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera said she was looking forward to seeing which license plate makes the most money[…]

    Bidding finishes at 4:20 p.m. on 4/20.

  • Watch wonderful new footage of John Lennon and Yoko Ono rehearsing "Give Peace a Chance"

    Just a few days before John Lennon and Yoko Ono's historic Bed-In-for Peace in Montreal on May 31, 1969, the couple were chilling out in the Bahamas where this rehearsal was recorded. It's never been seen before. From YouTube:

    Originally set for New York, the second Bed-In was relocated to the Bahamas after John & Yoko were denied entrance into the U.S. because of John's 1968 cannabis conviction. However, due to the layout of the hotel and the sweltering Bahamian heat, the couple flew to Toronto the following day and eventually settled in Montreal, chosen for its close proximity to New York and the American press, which they were hoping to use to get the attention of President Nixon.

    The couple holed up in the hotel for a week where they gave unlimited access and endless interviews, in order that their extended honeymoon serve as a "commercial for peace." The event culminated with the recording of John's first solo single and the first to be credited to the Plastic Ono Band, "Give Peace A Chance."

    Surrounded by fans, Hare Krishnas and having spent the week with a host of notable friends and celebrities like LSD advocate Timothy Leary, singer Petula Clark, disc jockey Murray The K, comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory and comedian Tommy Smothers, who accompanied on acoustic guitar, John and Yoko performed the song in bed, dressed in their pyjamas and helped provide the soundtrack to a revolution.

    The demo audio recording of "Give Peace A Chance" is included in the forthcoming John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band "Ultimate Collection Deluxe Box Set."

  • FBI: Do you know someone who walks like the suspected Washington DC pipe bomber?

    The nutcase who placed two pipe bombs near the Capitol in Washington, DC, is still on the loose. The FBI asks if you might recognize the way the person walks in the above video. From NPR:

    The FBI is also using gait analysis, a technique used to identify someone by the way the person walks, hoping it will lead to a suspect. Agents have released surveillance video to see if someone in the public might recognize the suspect from the way he or she moves.

    Dr. Mike Nirenberg wrote a textbook on gait analysis, and he reviewed the FBI video with NPR. "Look at how close their feet are to each other. … So that is a narrow base of gait," he said, watching the suspect. "Immediately what you notice is the arm swing of the person on that left arm. … There isn't a lot of rotation in the upper half of their body, their torso."

  • Man evicted home renters for growing cannabis and then set up his own grow operation there

    John Sheahan, 48, of County Cork, Ireland evicted tenants from a home he owns after they set up a shipping container in the back yard as an unlicensed cannabis grow house. He reportedly torched the 33 plants that they had cultivated. Then, hurting for money, Sheahan apparently partnered with another man who offered him €5,000 to get into the business. From the Irish Times:

    He took responsibility for the grow house, which was set up in three separate rooms in the container with the third room containing the mature plants[…]

    Judge Sean O Donnabhain said the fact that Sheahan had evicted his tenants for growing cannabis only to go into the business himself was perplexing.

    "Was it the way he objected to Foreign Direct Investment? He throws out the developer and then takes over the business himself." […]

    In sentencing Sheahan to two years in jail, which he suspended in its entirety, the Judge said: "He may have learned his lesson."

    illustrative image: Plantlady223 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

  • Lovely photocopier art made with a desktop scanner and a lightbulb

    Thickey Forrest makes wonderful, blown-out artwork using his desktop scanner, physical objects, and lightbulbs. His creations remind of late nights at Kinko's in the 1980s when the employees (aka our friends) gave us unrestricted access to the cutting-edge desktop publishing technology of the time to make 'zines, band fliers, and do weird Xerox experiments like this.

  • Police disarm "UFO detector" in New Jersey State Park

    New Jersey State Park Police were alerted to a UFO detector installed in the woods and dispatched a detective unit and bomb-sniffing dog to the area. According to a police posting on Facebook, "The device was carefully "disarmed" by NJ State Park Police personnel by unplugging the headphone wire from the block of wood and the soup can it was plugged into."

    With UFO Detector #448 now out of service, we might not know when They arrive!

    image: NJSPP

  • How to use an Instant Pot to germinate garden seeds

    If you're temporarily tired of making meals in your multicooker, you can use it to create a self-contained greenhouse-like environment to germinate seeds for your garden. Along with the Instant Pot and seeds, you'll need a plastic Ziploc bag, paper towel, sharpie, strainer, potting containers, soil, and a pie plate/casserole dish and lid (optional). If you grow vegetables, it would be fun to germinate vegetable seeds in the Instant Pot and cook the produce in it later. From the instructions at Modern Farmer:

    This can be particularly helpful if you want to speed up germination with warm-weather crops, such as tomatoes, melons, peppers and cucumbers, and you don't want to buy a heating mat. It can also be a useful tool if you're simply late to germinate your seeds or live in an area with a colder climate and a shorter growing season. 

    For those new to gardening, seed germination is the first process in growing food when a seed breaks out of its dormant stage and begins its development into a seedling. Seeds require a certain temperature and moisture to transition out of their dormant state. Most seeds germinate in an environment between 68°F and 86°F. 

    At its lowest "yogurt setting" at 91°F, the Instant Pot is able to provide a controlled, consistent greenhouse-like environment, producing germinated seeds in as little time as 24 hours to seven days. Given that the temperature of the water is on the higher side, this method is best for warmer-weather crops or those that prefer a temperature range from 76°F to 86°F. We don't recommend using the Instant Pot for cool-weather crops, such as those in the brassica family. 

    image: Ajay Suresh (CC BY 2.0)