Day: June 20, 2016

World's largest telescope in jeopardy


Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory is the world’s largest radio telescope. Arecibo is an icon of science. It’s where scientists proved the existence of neutron stars was proven, discovered the first binary pulsar, made the first direct image of an asteroid, made the first discovery of extrasolar planets, and of course transmitted the Arecibo Message, an attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligence. And right now, the Arecibo Observatory is facing demolition due to budget cuts. Nadia Drake attended meetings this month in Puerto Rico to where scientists, staff, students, and the National Science Foundation discussed the telescope’s fate and why it needs to be saved. From Natalie’s wondrous “No Place Like Home” blog at National Geographic:

Science isn’t the only concern at Arecibo. In fact, the majority of people at the meetings discussed the role the observatory plays in inspiring and training Puerto Rican students, some 20,000 of whom visit the site every year.

Though it’s hard to quantify, the value of inspiration and education is not insignificant, especially considering how underrepresented Hispanic students are in the sciences.

As evidence, several students involved in the Arecibo Observatory Space Academy spoke about how important their time at the observatory was, and how this pre-college program gave them hands-on research experience that continues to affect their lives.

“I can say that AOSA has had a great impact on my life,” said Adriana Lopez, a 14-year-old space academy alum. “Always, in my life, I’ve been fascinated with space, and it has led me to join several camps, but none of them have affected me like AOSA. This academy provided me with skills not even my own academic institution did.”

Luisa Zambrano, a graduate student who’s not only using Arecibo data in her dissertation but is involved in running the space academy, said that 100 percent of academy students that have graduated from high school are now in college. Further, she said, among the more than 150 students that have come through the program, “we’ve been able to maintain almost even male:female ratios—which is very unusual for science. Especially among Hispanics.”

That’s not all.

“Over the last five years, we have had 24 Hispanic students or teachers,” said Robert Minchin, Arecibo’s radioastronomy lead and summer internship supervisor. That might not sound like a lot, he said, but it’s more than the typical graduating class at a U.S university.

“It’s not possible to give someone a research experience if you’re not doing research,” Minchin said.

With Earth’s Largest Telescope Threatened, Its Homeland Rallies

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Guy Maddin’s Seances is a Different Movie Every Time You Watch It


Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin’s specialty are avant-garde films that use the techniques of silent cinema to disorient the viewer. He’s good at it. I was first introduced to his work in Tales of the Gimli Hospital, fine viewing for a dark night in an isolated location. His work is never “easy,” and requires patience and interest. Maddin’s latest project is something unique in the history of cinema, and only made possible by access to it on the Internet. Maddin introduces Seances:

“Almost every director working in the first half‐century of film history has lost at least one film to the quirks of fate. These lost works remind me of ghosts. It’s easy to equate these films long gone missing, which exist forensically only in the form of a few production stills and some old Variety reviews, as restless spirits that haunt us. The landscape of cinema history is thronged with their likes, tormenting us with their promise of a return, of their warm refulgent brilliance restored to us, as in a miracle. There will never be the kind of closure the discovery of a dead body can bring to a family. These films will never be declared dead with any certainty, they will continue to haunt us with the possibility of their return. These lost film titles are the ‘hauntings’ we hope to invoke with Seances.”

Seances, co-created with Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson, is experimental cinema for those who like drifting into a madhouse reverie, a strange almost hellishly-inscrutable dream from which there is no waking. It’s an endless hall of mirrors. No escape because there’s no exit.

Guy Maddin Shoot Seances

Technically, Seances is web-based avant-garde cinema art consisting of a large number of short silent films set to music, which are intermixed at random in bits and pieces by computer algorithms. Maddin shot the films, sometimes one each day, at the Phi Centre in Montreal and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, with the participation of actors such as Charlotte Rampling, Geraldine Chaplin, and genre favorite Udo Keir, among many others.


What’s most fascinating to me about the project is that when you visit the SEANCES website, it opens and fills your computer monitor. An odd title appears center screen, undulating, and then suddenly it changes to a different title. Sometimes the new title is completely different, other times only a few words change. When you click and hold down your cursor it’s as if a roulette wheel is spinning—whatever film is generated is usually a different length, with a title selected apparently at random, with scenes plucked willy-nilly and shown in an order that changes with every viewing.

The movie you watch will never be seen by anyone else, nor will it exist after you are finished viewing it. I’ve sneakily captured two of these below.

When you’re ready for the full experience (whatever it may be) click here.

You can also watch seven of the separate films which comprise Seances on Vimeo []

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast recaps Game of Thrones S6E09, "Battle of the Bastards"

Tyrion & Guards

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast recaps Game of Thrones S6E09, “Battle of the Bastards” The sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones reaches its penultimate episode, with an awesome, climactic battle leading to the comeuppance for which we’ve all been waiting. Each week following the show, Boars, Gore, and Swords recaps everything that goes down in the world of Westeros. To discuss this week’s “Battle of the Bastards,” Ivan and Red are joined by writer Maggie Tokuda-Hall to discuss what make-up you bring to the negotiating table, the gender dynamics of war councils, how Daenerys/Yara is the new greatest ship, and Ramsay’s fate still being better than he deserves.

To catch up on previous seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you want access to extra episodes and content, you can donate to the Patreon.

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Scanpan Professional 9.5-Inch Fry Pan

I have always hated Teflon pans even before hearing how bad it was for you. They just don’t hold up well and the alternative has always been keeping a very well seasoned cast iron pan. I have done this for years, but it takes a fair amount of attention, and is still not a perfect non stick solution. I started trying some of the ceramic coated pans a few years back and have found one to be the best, the Scanpan ($98, Amazon). They are not cheap but I have used their classic fry pan to make eggs every morning for a couple years and the coating looks as good as new and as I have added others to my collection I find that they are the ones I reach for every time. They clean as easy as brand new Teflon pans, come in a variety of handle and lid styles, and hold up better and have none of the toxicity. — Alexander Rose

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Video: Guarding the Decentralized Web from its founders' human frailty

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Earlier this month, I gave the afternoon keynote at the Internet Archive’s Decentralized Web Summit, speaking about how the people who are building a new kind of decentralized web can guard against their own future moments of weakness and prevent themselves from rationalizing away the kinds of compromises that led to the centralization of today’s web.

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Florida sheriff apprehends Multi-State LEGO thief


Shannon Kirkley, of New Jersey, was arrested in Wesley Chapel, Florida, after hiding a number of LEGO sets in a toy treasure box, and paying only for the box. Kirkley admitted to having pulled variants of this caper across the country.

Via a FOX affiliate:

A man suspected of stealing thousands of dollars worth of Star Wars Lego items from Toys R’ Us stores across the country was arrested Tuesday in Florida.

“(Kirkley) put up a fight, but was eventually taken into custody,” Melanie Snow, a sheriff’s spokeswoman, said in a release.

Kirkley admitted to similar thefts across the country, investigators said.

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Simple card reader with lightning adaptor


I needed a microSD card reader that’d let me review photos and video from digital cameras on my iPad, or iPhone. This $21 HonkTai iReader does the trick!

I don’t like to carry my laptop on motorcycle trips, and this lets me check out a days photos, edit them, and clear storage space for the rest of the trip. After installing HonkTai’s app via the Apple Store, this iReader easily loads photos and videos back and forth from MicroSD and SD cards and your iDevice.

It also has a MicroUSB connection and will work with Android devices, as well as act as a regular USB card reader for your laptop.

HonkTai Lightning iReader via Amazon

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Japan's hardcore minimalists, who have sold most of their possessions


Fumio Sasaki, a 36-year-old editor in Tokyo, sold or gave away his collection of books, CDs and DVDs, as well as most of clothes and other possessions. He told the Guardian: “Spending less time on cleaning or shopping means I have more time to spend with friends, go out, or travel on my days off. I have become a lot more active.” about Sasaki and other Japanese minimalists, many inspired by Mari Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing/.

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Binyamin Netanyahu's $1,600 hair styling

Image: Kremlin

How lucky is that Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, gets to charge taxpayers for his $1,600 hairstyling bill? Almost everyone else who suffers from expensive hair syndrome must pay for it out-of-pocket.


A visit to New York by Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and his wife Sara cost the country’s taxpayers $541,886 (£382,000) , according to a detailed breakdown published after months of attempts by his office to prevent its release.

The cost – which included thousands of dollars for hairstyling and makeup for Netanyahu – follows a series of other recent controversies over the luxurious life enjoyed by the prime minister at the taxpayer’s expense – not least their travel.

… A year earlier, it was revealed that Netanyahu had an annual contract of more than $2,000 with a Jerusalem ice cream parlour to supply his favourite flavour – pistachio.

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The Art of Finding Dory – Beneath the surface of Disney's amazing aquatic adventure


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

The Art of Finding Dory

by Disney and Pixar Studios (preface by John Lasseter)

Chronicle Books

2016, 176 pages, 9.5 x 11.5 x 1 inches

$36 Buy a copy on Amazon

The Art of Finding Dory is more than a companion book to the new Disney Pixar movie – it’s an in-depth look at all aspects of the development and production process for an animated film. Finding Dory the movie explores the life of the forgetful little blue fish known as Dory, while the book not only delves into Dory’s background, but also lets the reader experience the imagination (and magic) of Pixar and Disney. The team behind the movie spent countless hours at beaches, aquariums, marine rehabilitation centers, and along the California coastline to create the most realistic world possible under the sea. They researched how light filters through the ocean, how sea life travels in deep water, and how to make authentic-looking coral reefs out of clay. The Art of Finding Dory chronicles their creative process through photos, hand drawings, computer generated images, story boards, and detailed color palettes. It took four years to bring Finding Dory to the big screen. Once you read The Art of Finding Dory you will understand what a true labor of love the journey was.

– Carole Rosner

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The Young Ones had a very strange FIFTH housemate!


The Young Ones was a fantastically funny, surreal, and anarchic British sitcom in the 1980s about four students who shared a house. There was punk Vyvyan, anarchist Rick, hippie Neil, and ladies’ man Mike. But if you looked very closely, you might have spotted… another. If you looked very closely you might have spotted a curious hirsute individual hidden in every episode of the first season. Over at the Daily Grail, John Reppion explores this wonderful Easter egg of 1980s cult television. And if you don’t know The Young Ones, hit YouTube now and thank me later. From the Daily Grail:

If, right now, you search for images of The Young Ones, you will find some promo shots from 1982 with the four main characters standing in the kitchen of their house around an empty white wooden chair. Mike is wearing gingham pyjamas with teddy bears printed on them, and in some shots has one foot on the chair. In some variants of these shot though, the chair is not empty. The ghost – or fifth housemate, as she appears here – is once again front and centre and no-one seems to have noticed.

In fact, no-one seems to have noticed to such a degree that this image seems to have been used for years in articles referring to The Young Ones, without anyone questioning it. How can that be? How can you and I never have seen her there? Or behind the sofa? Or sitting in the armchair? Or floating past the window? How has she possibly been RIGHT THERE for thirty-four years?

The 5th Young One: Pay No Attention to the Girl Behind the Sofa(Daily Grail)



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3D printed sundial projects digital time


Mojoptix designed and built a sundial that displays the time in its shadow. You can download the 3D printer files on Thingiverse, or buy one on Etsy.

Fun fact about this sundial: You will most likely never see it in a supermarket or a department store. The swiss cheese inside the sundial is so intricate, that you can’t realistically use injection molding, or some other mass-production method. 3D printing seems actually to be the only practical way to build this digital sundial ! (is that really true ?? let me know what you think in the comments !)

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Timothy Leary's archivist on Leary's prison escape, Algerian exile, and Swiss prison-time


Lisa Rein writes, “In less than a year, Timothy Leary was imprisoned in three different
continents–and it could’ve been worse. After escaping from a California
prison with the help of the Weatherman Underground and the Brotherhood of
Eternal Love, he and Rosemary fled Algeria
from a ‘revolutionary bust’ by Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver, only
to be jailed in Switzerland when President Nixon personally demanded his
extradition back to the U.S.”


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Choose your own sex scene from Romeo and/or Juliet


Here’s one of millions of different paths you can take in the new book, Romeo and/or Juliet: a Chooseable-Path Adventure, by Ryan North.

We’re joining the story in Act 2 Scene 2, which you’ll recognize from the actual Shakespeare play. Juliet has SECRETLY MARRIED Romeo, and now she’s waiting at home for Romeo to climb up the sex ladder he sent ahead (Romeo is extremely classy), so they can consummate their marriage! Meanwhile, Romeo has killed her cousin Tybalt due to some supremely bad decision making. As Juliet, we’ve just decided to keep waiting for Romeo. Let’s see what (could possibly, depending on what choices we make) happens next, shall we?


From ROMEO AND/OR JULIET: a chooseable-path adventure by Ryan North. Published by arrangement with Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by Ryan North. Illustrations: Passage 328 © Randall Munroe; Passage 339 © Sara Richard

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Employees spanked for incompetence

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Inept employees at a business in China were publicly spanked for their poor performance, reports People’s Daily.

In video captured on cellphone, a manager is seen upbraiding staff, lined up on stage before their colleagues at Chinese Rural Commercial Bank. Then he produces a baton and begins spanking them on the buttocks.

Though the employees are clothed, the manager’s form is robust and the thwacks sharp.

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Unappetizing milkshake leads to Burger King assault


A mystery man assaulted a 62-year-old Burger King server in Texas because his milkshake wasn’t tasty enough.

Police say footage captured the man rejecting drinks made for him by Alejandra Estrada three times before finally attacking her, reports NBC in Dallas.

…he began throwing things at her and threatened to kill her.

Surveillance video captured the man hopping over the counter and chasing her into the back of the restaurant, where Estrada said he punched her repeatedly.

“He hit me a lot,” she said. “Like seven times.”

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John Oliver on Brexit: the EU is the least-worst option, and racists support Leave

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John Oliver’s Brexit bit provides much-needed perspective on the UK-EU referendum: while acknowledging the real problems with the EU, Oliver points out that on the one hand, the Leave side’s core arguments are a mishmash of unvarnished, deranged racism and deceptive number-fudging; while the Remain side provides a lot of good to outweigh the bad of EU membership.

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Carrying your drinks is a snap with the Self-Stirring Camera Lens Mug - now $12.99

If you looked at this Self-Stirring Camera Lens Mug without examining it too closely, it would absolutely pass for a real DSLR telephoto lens.

But pop the cap off, and you’re looking at a custom insulated stainless steel interior capable of handling any hot or cold beverage you pour into it.

Oh, and this mug also stirs itself. You heard right. It blends your drink, so you don’t have to do it.

Whether you’re all about the cool gadgets, or just so lazy you can’t be bothered to stir your own drink–this camera lens mug takes the task into its own hands.

The perfect gift for any shutterbug you know, you can pick up a Self-Stirring Camera Lens Mug for just $12.99 – 35% off the usual price – while this offer lasts.

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