Listen to The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," a stunning unreleased version

From "The Beatles (White Album) Super Deluxe Edition" coming next month, this gorgeous early acoustic version of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Read the rest

Modest Mouse vs. Queen, a most excellent mash-up

Oneboredjeu slams together Modest Mouse's "Float On" with Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" to great effect.

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Listen to "TrumpCrazy," a killer mambo track from 1955!

In 1955, Cuban bandleader, pianist, and "Mambo King" Anselmo Sacasas and his orchestra released this prescient burner on King Records. TrumpCrazy!

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Robots! A fantastic catalog of new species

IEEE Spectrum editor Erico Guizzo and colleagues have blown out their original Robots app into a fantastic catalog of 200 of today's fantastic species of robots. They're cleverly organized into fun categories like "Robots You Can Hug," "Robots That Can Dance," "Space Robots," and "Factory Workers." If they keep it updated, it'll be very helpful for the robot uprising. After all, you can't tell the players without a program!

Robots: Your Guide to the World of Robotics (IEEE Spectrum)

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Cotton and jelly sandwich?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service approved the growing of a new kind of cotton plant that's been genetically modified to be edible. The toxic chemical gossypol in the plant usually makes the cotton dangerous for humans to eat. Texas A&M biotechnologist Keerti Rathore and colleagues genetically stopped the production of gossypol in the cottonseed while not interfering with it elsewhere in the plant where it acts as a natural insecticide. From Reuters:

“To me, personally, it tastes somewhat like chickpea and it could easily be used to make a tasty hummus,” Rathore said of gossypol-free cottonseed.

After cottonseed oil, which can be used for cooking, is extracted, the remaining high-protein meal from the new cotton plant can find many uses, Rathore said.

It can be turned into flour for use in breads, tortillas and other baked goods and used in protein bars, while whole cottonseed kernels, roasted and salted, can be consumed as a snack or to create a peanut butter type of paste, Rathore added.

(via Daily Grail) Read the rest

Child goes through X-ray baggage scanner

A child reportedly rode through an X-ray baggage scanner last week at the Xiaolan Railway Station in South China. According to the state-owned China Global Television Network, the young'n snuck away from his father and hopped onto the conveyor belt. Apparently he is fine. As you'll recall, earlier this year a woman in Dongguan, China rode through an X-ray machine to keep an eye on her handbag.

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An astoundingly odd cinematic cigarette commercial from 1977

I can imagine the first brainstorm: "What if the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey was actually a massive pack of cigarettes? And they found it at the bottom of the ocean?" Here's the actual back story according to Big Dog Media Productions:

When health warnings first appeared on packets in 1971 and the rules for cigarette advertising rules were changed, tobacco companies were faced with the challenge of maintaining brand awareness and driving sales in a market made more aware of the risks than ever before.

The change in rules, coupled with a fresh approach to advertising in general, gave birth to a unique genre of advertising that neatly ticked the boxes of the rule book yet created an art form. As with Surrealist art, these ads aimed to surprise and intrigue the viewer by replacing the objects people expected to see in a particular scene with something incongruous – in this case, a packet of cigarettes.

Collett Dickenson Pearce was tasked with the advertising for Benson & Hedges in 1973....

The story goes that Frank Lowe, Managing Director at CDP in 1977, had two finished campaigns to present. After much debate, he took both campaigns to CDP’s Creative Director, Colin Millward, and asked him his view.

Colin said “…one will let you sleep at night, the other will make you famous.”

(via r/ObscureMedia, thanks UPSO!) Read the rest

Judy Blume's "Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret" coming to to big screen

A half a century after Judy Blume's classic young adult novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was first published, it's going to be made into a film. Blume has consistently refused to allow her books to become movies. Fremon Craig who wrote and directed The Edge of Seventeen will adapt "Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret" for the screen and direct the movie with James L. Brooks producing. Apparently Blume hit it off with them during a trip to Hollywood in August. From Deadline:

“It is this right of passage for women and girls,” Fremon Craig told Deadline. “It’s rare for me to run into a woman or girl who hasn’t read it and every time I’ve mentioned it to a woman, they clutch their heart and let out this joyful gasp. There’s something so timely and full of truth and I remember for me that at that age, it felt like a life raft at a time when you’re lost and searching and unsure. This book comes along and tells you you’re not alone. Women remember where they were when they read it. I can’t think of another book you can say that about...."

“I got the greatest email from Judy where she said if someone were to make a film of one of her books, she hoped it would have the same tone and feeling that The Edge of Seventeen had,” Fremon Craig said. “It’s maybe the greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten, because she has always been a North star for me as a writer.

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Werner Herzog is making a documentary about meteorites

Fireball is Werner Herzog's forthcoming documentary "about meteorites and comets and their influence on mythology and religion," according to Variety. He's once again collaborating with British geoscientist Clive Oppenheimer, his partner on the volcano documentary Into the Inferno. From Variety:

The producers of “Into the Inferno,” Andre Singer and Lucki Stipetic, are both on board “Fireball.” Herzog and Oppenheimer will co-direct. They will once more go globe-trotting, this time to visit sites that yield insight into comets and meteorites and help them understand what they can tell us about the origins of life on Earth.

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Hear the eerily beautiful song of the Antarctic ice shelf

When wind blows over the snow of Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf, the surface vibrates and produces a beautiful and eery drone. Colorado State University researchers deployed seismometers to explore the subsurface of the ice shelf and were surprised to learn that their sensors recorded the natural song of the terrain. The frequencies are below the threshold of human hearing and are sped up for audibility in the video above. From the scientific paper:

Ice shelves are the floating buttresses of large glaciers that extend over the oceans and play a key role in restraining inland glaciers as they flow to the sea. Deploying sensitive seismographs across Earth’s largest ice shelf (the Ross Ice Shelf) for 2 years, we discovered that the shelf nearly continuously sings at frequencies of five or more cycles per second, excited by local and regional winds blowing across its snow dune-like topography. We find that the frequencies and other features of this singing change, both as storms alter the snow dunes and during a (January 2016) warming event that resulted in melting in the ice shelf’s near surface. These observations demonstrate that seismological monitoring can be used to continually monitor the near-surface conditions of an ice shelf and other icy bodies to depths of several meters.

More at Colorado State University News.

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Book of brutalist archictecture postcards from the Soviet era

Brutal Block Postcards is a new book that, er, celebrates the concrete landscape of the Soviet era. Over at Collectors Weekly, Lisa Hix flips through the pages:

Many of these postcards, published by governments of the U.S.S.R. between the 1960s and 1980s, depict the bland, 1960s five-story concrete-paneled apartments known as “khrushchyovka” as if to say, “Look at the modern wonder of collective worker housing!” To Westerners, the boxy buildings telegraph the bleak authority of so-called poured-concrete “Brutalist” architecture, which was somehow popular with both democratic and totalitarian governments during the postwar years.

However, in Brutal Bloc Postcards, the images of stern rectilinear apartments, government offices, and hotels stand in stark contrast to the dramatic public monuments. These Cold War-era monuments are epic in scale, towering over the Soviet landscape; their angular, avant-garde forms convey movement, as if hurtling toward brighter future through Communism.

"Postcards From Big Brother" (Collectors Weekly)

Brutal Blog Postcards: Soviet Era Postcards from the Eastern Bloc (Amazon)

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New issue of Faesthetic, the lavish and mindbending art 'zine

Boing Boing pal Dustin "UPSO" Hostetler has published the fifteenth issue of his long-running print 'zine Faesthetic, the exquisitely-produced visual wunderkammer of art/illustration/design. Faesthetic #15 is themed "Convergent Visions" and I was delighted to contribute an essay about the Voyager Golden Record as an iconic artifact of futures thinking. The issue features work by all of these incredible creators: Christan Mendoza, Jon Contino, Adam Griffiths, Adrian Cox, Alex Barrett, Caitlin Russell, Chris Nickels, Dang Olsen, Elaine Miller, Gabrielle Rosenstein, Janne Iivonen, Prate™, Jeremyville, Jim O’Boyle, John Szot, Josh Row, Julian Glander, Justin Harris, Karen Ingram & Nicola Patron, Kyle Knapp, Leanna Perry, Loc Huynh, Maggie Chiang, Marta Piaseczynska, Max Löffler, Okell Lee, Pedro Nekoi, Tara McPherson, Thayer Bray, Bryan C. Lee Jr, and Alison Conway.

Buy Faesthetic for just $10. Here's the story behind this edition:

The idea for “Convergent Visions” took root in the halls of South By South West in 2017. After a mind-boggling keynote delivered by biochemist Jennifer Doudna, Faesthetic publisher Dustin Hostetler and creative director Karen Ingram bumped into Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer of SXSW. This chance meeting sparked a conversation between Karen and Dustin that became a collaborative effort with the 2018 SXSW Art Program.

“Convergent Visions” probes various areas in science and technology through an artistic lens. Overarching themes include Design, Health and Wellness, Social Impact and the Intelligent Future become realized through the creativity vibrating and flowing from the minds and fingers of 30 international artists and designers.

With a nod to Donna Haraway’s characterization of the emerging and many-tentacled epoch of the Chthulucene, “Convergent Visions” showcases the visions of these talented creatives.

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Wild Thing podcast is like Serial but about Bigfoot

Several years ago, radio journalist Laura Krantz read an article about anthropology professor and pioneering Bigfoot researcher Grover Krantz who died in 2002. Laura was surprised to find out that Grover was her grandfather's cousin. Her interest sparked, she began her own cryptozoological quest. The result is Wild Thing, a fantastic podcast about Bigfoot researchers, Sasquatch and science, legend and myth, pop culture, and other fascinating threads. From the Los Angeles Times:

Krantz, a self-identified skeptic, says she approached the story from a scientific standpoint like Grover would. For instance, she opted not to talk to people who thought Bigfoot was brought to Earth by aliens or had the ability to move through different dimensions of space and time. Instead, she delves into topics such as evolution, e.g. where Bigfoot would fit on the tree of life. Ultimately, it was the steady stream of wildlife biologists and seasoned outdoorsmen recounting their own Bigfoot sightings that moved the believability needle for Krantz...

The nine central story episodes of “Wild Thing” will be supplemented with intermittent bonus installments, which include in-depth conversations with writer Virginia Wade, who — at her peak — made about $20,000 a month writing Bigfoot erotica, says Krantz. She also talks with William Dear, writer and director of feel-good family flick, “Harry and the Hendersons.” Krantz traveled to Northern California for the 50th anniversary of the quintessential Patterson-Gimlin film, in which grainy imagery captures an up-close Bigfoot sighting that’s long been the source of debate. She also headed back to Los Angeles to speak with experts about the psychology of belief and the “business of Bigfoot” — like why companies use its name and imagery for branding.

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New music video for Thom Yorke's "Hands off the Antarctic" from Greenpeace

Greenpeace International just released this beautiful music video for "Hands off the Antarctic," a new track by Radiohead's Thom Yorke. Part of Greenpeace's Protect the Antarctic Ocean initiative, the footage is from their Arctic Sunrise research vessel.

"There are some places on this planet that are meant to stay raw and wild and not destroyed by humanity’s footprint,” Yorke said. “This track is about stopping the relentless march of those heavy footsteps. The Antarctic is a true wilderness and what happens there affects us all. That’s why we should protect it.”

The environmental group premiered the video yesterday by projecting it onto London's Marble Arch.

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The National Park Service's version of the FBI is no joke

No, they aren't after people who litter. The National Park Service's Investigative Services Branch (ISB) of 33 special agents handle the rapes, murders, assaults, robberies, poaching, drug smuggling, and other big crimes that occur on the 85 million acres of United States parks, historical sites, monuments, and other NPS turf. From Outside:

) ISB agents are a strange breed. They require a high tolerance for time alone in the backcountry—but because solving crimes typically comes down to getting information from people, they also need social skills. “I look for people who can talk to anybody,” Sullivan told me. Each of the half-dozen agents in the office was drawn to the job for different reasons. Kristy McGee, a petite blonde wearing cowboy boots, specialized in violent crime. “I had a very chaotic childhood. I was exposed to a lot of adult-natured things—drugs, abuse,” she told me. “I found a place where I can use that to relate to people.”

Steve Kim, who has salt-and-pepper hair and a degree in wildlife ecology, told me about how he had spent the summer of 1995 living the life of a dirtbag climber, when Yosemite put out a call asking climbers to help with a death investigation. While rappelling off the east ledges of El Capitan, looking for clues, Kim discovered that ISB work suited him—“It’s probably my obsessive-compulsive tendencies”—and never looked back.

Cullen Tucker, the office’s youngest agent at age 30, was born into the business; his dad is a former deputy chief ranger at Yosemite, and his mom was one of the park’s first female investigators.

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People with a good sense of smell may also be better at navigation

Recent research suggests that our sense of smell evolved to help us find our way. Now, McGill University neuroscientist Louisa Dahmani and her colleagues support that idea, termed the "olfactory spatial hypothesis." From Science News:

Scientists linked both skills to certain spots in the brain: The left orbitofrontal cortex and the right hippocampus were both bigger in the better smellers and better navigators. The left orbitofrontal cortex and the right hippocampus were both bigger in the better smellers and better navigators. While the orbitofrontal cortex has been tied to smelling, the hippocampus is known to be involved in both smelling and navigation. A separate group of 9 people who had damaged orbitofrontal cortices had more trouble with navigation and smell identification...

"An intrinsic association between olfactory identification and spatial memory in humans" (Nature Communications) Read the rest

Why are moths drawn to lamps?

According to the explanation of the phrase "like a moth to the flame" at The Phrase Finder, "the word moth was used the the 17th century to mean someone who was apt to be tempted by something that would lead to their downfall." But why do moths have this fatal attraction anyway? National Geographic explains in the above video:

The theory is that these primarily nocturnal insects have evolved to travel by the light of the moon and stars. This way of travel is called transverse orientation. An easy way to think about transverse orientation is to imagine a sailor travelling in the direction of the North Star. In theory, moths similarly follow the light source at a precise position and a precise angle to their bodies. This is how moths would navigate for millions of years … by the light of the moon. What moth evolution couldn’t account for was the proliferation of constant electric light in our modern world. When Thomas Edison patented the lightbulb on January 27, 1880 it was a bad day in moth history. These lightbulbs began to act as artificial moons, confusing moths and overwhelming their senses. Since moths are accustomed to orienting to distant light sources, they can be easily disoriented when a closer light source, like a porch lamp, comes into view.

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