Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Landscape is Part of This Apartment Building

"Hundertwasser Building," or Hundertwasser House, or "Waldspirale" ("Forest Spiral"), is a sculpture, a park, and an apartment building.

With 105 apartments and a running stream.

Happy Halloween!

Hope you have fun.

Towards that end, here are:

Just What the World Needs:
A Million-Dollar Floating Bed

"Floating Bed"

For those who have $1,540,000 (USD) to spend on a piece of furniture, this black platform really does float.

Cool? Yes.

Comfortable? It's really cool.

History On-Line
Not in the Top-100 Popular Sites

"History On-Line" is part of the Institute of Historical Research's (IHR) website, providing information resources for the teaching and learning of history.

Not everyone's cup of tea, but a pretty good resource for historians and history buffs.

Mont Saint Michel

"Mont Saint Michel:" Photos and some text about France's second-most-popular tourist attraction.

A Heartwarming Story

"Information, please" is a touching story.

I think I've read this before. If anyone knows the origin of this story, I'd appreciate a comment.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Writers and Publishing

"Unpublished Writers...Listen Up!" is a discussion thread with a little advice for writers who want to publish.

Pretty Good Marketing Advice

"13 Ways to Earn the Trust of Online Purchasers" is a pretty good how-2 summary for gaining customer trust. Unless you suffer from triskaidekaphobia, of course.

New Paradigm for Adjustable Shelving

"Rolling Shelf - The Solution For Anything Tall" - not a shelving unit on wheels, shelves that roll. Not a bad idea at all.

Catching a Virus is Good: Online

In people and pets, "viral" isn't good.

Online, "viral" is good.

"Top 6 Ideas for Incredible Viral Content" is a pretty good place to start looking for ideas of viral content.

("Viral," online definition "A self-propagating practice or pattern of Internet use that moves from person to person." (

A Seriously Funny List

"For Those Who Take Life Too Seriously" - a numbered list, from
"1. Save the whales. Collect the whole set"
"54. If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving isn't for you."

I rather like
"7. I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe."

And Now, for Something Completely Different: A Sense of Scale, from Earth to Antares

"The Size Of Our World" - pictures of planets, and stars. Gives a sense of how big these things are in relation to one another.

Here's another, extremely similar, page:

"Size Comparison of Celestial Objects" - my guess is that this one is much closer to the original source of the graphics.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dutiful Dogs on Halloween

"It appears that Halloween may have gone to the Dogs" - Photos of dogs in Halloween costumes.

This is a mixture of cute and bizarre.

My favorite of the lot isn't even of a dog: It's the last photo, "Don't Drink and Fly."

Cats. In Sinks.

For those who think you can never see enough pictures of cats in sinks: "Cats in Sinks." Enjoy.

"It's About Cats. In Sinks.

"What is Cats in Sinks? It's obvious. It's about cats. And Kittens. Who like sinks. And Basins."

Grooming Glumbert

"Glumbert / Cat gets a vacuum cleaning" A little over a minute of a white cat getting some grooming assistance.

Viewers who know cats may enjoy watching as Glumbert's mood changes during this video.

Fluid Felines

"The Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics! / Solos" - photos of cats in repose.

I draw your attention to
  • Junior performs the How Do I Breathe? Nose-Dive Special.
  • Roscoe in Pass The Prozac, I'm Like, So Tense.

A Cat, a Dog, and a Cold Day

"It's cold out here" - how a cat and a dog solve a mutual problem, in four photos.

Five Short Steps to Failure

"5 Ways To Get Me to Quickly Reject Your Book Proposal" starts with "Don’t do any research."

Good advice for writers.

Concrete: Old Material, New Trick

" Light transmitting concrete " Interesting idea. Concrete that lets light through: in one direction, at any rate.

Lots of photos, no text to speak of.

Sixties Slope Solution

"The Chemosphere" "...a bundle of contradictions, a spectacularly odd landmark, a unique effort, a kind of high-water mark, a signpost to a future that never developed."

Photos and discussion of a remarkable generic solution to sloping lots.

Bloopers in Print

"Newspaper cuts…" - one of my favorites is "One-armed man applauds the kindness of strangers."

Agriculture as a Mistake

"Jared Diamond: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race" is a long read (a little over 2,700 words).

I don't necessarily agree with everything he says, and I caught of whiff of some all-too-familiar political notions, but this piece is well-written. Basically, the author's arguing that humanity had it pretty good, until agriculture came along.
Update (April 26, 2010)

Looks like Jared Diamond's article about the error of agriculture has been moved - or pulled off the Internet entirely. I got a 404 error on the original link, and was unable to find a current location for the piece.

Practical Design? You Decide

"Interesting idea / Great for sudden parties!" is a multipurpose home furnishing.

Assembled, it's a big of modern art that looks like it might be from a science fiction movie.

Taken apart, four people can sit on it. Eight, if they really squeeze. And there's a drink table left over.

Another Cat Photo

"What Has Been Seen... Cannot Be Un-Seen" I suspect that we've all felt the way this cat looks, at least once.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Making Smoke in Photoshop

"Creating Smoke In Photoshop From Scratch" is a pretty good how-2, with screen shots.

The instructions are specific to Photoshop, but my guess is that someone with moderate skill and imagination could use a variation of this technique with most decent graphics programs.

A Kitten, and a Laptop

"Kitten vs Laptop" may explain why the settings on your unattended laptop change. If you've got a kitten, at least. The video is less than two minutes long.

Caution: High Cuteness Levels

Dustbin / Wastebasket / Magazine Holder

"dustbin" shows really smart design. The dustbin (wastebasket to Americans) has a top that is shaped like an open magazine. So, "the bin can be sealed by a (!) ordinary magazine. useful for people who like to read in the toilet."

Freaked Feline?

"I Found pills / and ate them" is a photo's caption. The subject is a cat, looking far happier than felines are wont to be.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Never Give Up: The Poster

"Never Give Up Poster" - Does anyone know who made this poster? Not the scan: the original poster.

I'd say this is one of my top-40 Best Inspirational Posters.

If I had such a list.

Seriously Weird Alarm Clocks.

" 14 of the Worlds Strangest Alarm Clocks for Those Early Morning Risers."

The title may not be 100% accurate, but it's close.

One won't stop ringing until you finish a puzzle.

Another runs on water.

Yet another is a conversationalist. This one is my favorite. You can tell it to sing you a song, or ask it things like "How do I look?" )I don't know about you, but that's one I wouldn't ask as I awaken). Best of all: "In the morning he will start beeping and chatting at you, so you can either say 'alarm off' or grab him by the neck and shake him until he shuts up, depends on what kind of morning you are having."

Just a Little Cabin in the Woods
With a Fireplace, and a Swimming Pool, and a ...

"Olle Lundberg's Cabin" is a simple little affair, with at least two floors, a deck, a swimming pool, (I think I saw a hot tub, too), and a great view.

The photos are mostly of the cabin, but there are two of Olle's little boat on the bay, too.

Olle Lundberg is an architect, salvage junkie and Ikea designer.

Friday, October 26, 2007

What to Say When "Said" Won't Do

"Words Other Than Said" gives 165 words, from "Exclaimed" to "Oozed," that mean "said" - more or less.

I've seen worse writers' resources.

Photos of Rome

"Rome" A photogaphic Tour" isn't just like a trip to Rome. But, with all those photos, it's not a bad substitute. And, a lot less expensive.

Fun and Facts About Flags

"We are Multicolored" tells what the colors and symbols on national flags mean.

The home page leads to a design-your-own-flag feature. Here's what I came up with:

Star Wars X-Wing:
The Force Wasn't With This One

I posted "Star Wars X-Wing to be Launched Next Week" three and a half weeks ago.

Then, I didn't follow up. Until now.

It's a good thing that no one decided to ride along on the X-Wing's first, and last, flight. Finally, the updated links:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sharpening Pencils as an Art

Matthew James Taylor's "The art of sharpening pencils:" Four kinds of pencil points, Four methods of sharpening pencils, and a sincerely disgusting 'Living Dead Dolls' Sadie Pencil Sharpener.

What can I say? It's almost Halloween.

'Not as clumsy or as random as an explitive.
An elegant remark for a more civilized age.'

"When Insults Had Class" took me down memory lane.

The list is flawed: A Mae West quote appears twice. Just the same, it's worth reading.

One of my favorites:

"A modest little person, with much to be modest about."
—Winston Churchill

A Can of Dehydrated Water

"High Purity," a photo of a can of Bernard Food Industries dehydrated water.

This may explain why so few people have ever heard of Bernard Food Industries.

Expanding Round Table:
Beautiful Wood, Cool Technology

Another StumbleVideo:

"MASA TASARIMI." A very cool round table.

If Arthur had used something like this - well, no, on consideration, this wouldn't have helped with that Mordred thing. But, for someone with a lot of money a need for two sizes of table in one place, and/or a love of gadgetry, this table would be the thing to get.

Boeing's New 747-8: a Fly-Through

"Interior of the new Boeing 747-8," shown on StumbleVideo, is a virtual fly-through of the Boeing airliner It takes about three minutes, and gives a pretty good view of the airplane.

I see that they've re-invented the Pullman car. Not a bad idea, really.

For those who are sensitive to such things, a warning: This video is quite obviously a commercial product, intended to show what a nifty plane Boeing made.

Bob Hope, Zombies, and a Political One-Liner

If you're very political, stay away from "Best one-liner." It's a clip from an old Bob Hope movie.

For everyone else, enjoy!

Old Star, New Details: Mira in Ultraviolet

This star has been studied for about four centuries. You'd expect that just about everything to see has been seen. Then, an orbiting observatory that sees in ultraviolet took a look.

"Speeding-Bullet Star Leaves Enormous Streak Across Sky" is about the trail Mira leaves, at it shoots through the Milky Way galaxy.

The trail is about 13 light years long (Mira is about 350 light years away - it would look very roughly as big as the lower support of an American football goal post, as seen from the other end of the field. If you could see in ultraviolet, and were above Earth's atmosphere, that is.

A good article, if you're interested in astronomy.

Bølgen: Architecture so Contemporary, so, Well, Contemporary

"Bølgen" is "a [model of a?] housing development in Denmark" - there's more at, but my guess is that you'd better know Dansk.

Someone suggested that it looks like a skate ramp. My first impression was that the architect was inspired by the inside part of corrugated cardboard.

Wise Advice, and a Warning, to Two Daft Dogs

The author of "Note to the Dogs" obviously knows dogs. And cats.

Point 4 begins, "Speaking of the cat- when he hunkers down into that little mound, lays his ears back, squints his eyes and growls way back in his chest, HE IS NOT A HAPPY KITTY. Leave him alone. He does not want to play with you...."

Photo of a Furious Feline

This photograph of an unquestionably irritated cat has the following quotation: "I question the general assumption that felines are inherently deficient in the area of grammar and sentence structure."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Useful Appendix, and the "Hygiene Hypothesis"

"Appendix Isn't Useless at All: It's a Safe House for Bacteria" - Duke University Medical Center may have found a use for the human appendix.

Neuro-Architecture? They're Not Kidding

"The Rise of Neuro-Architecture" starts with a photo of a genuinely strange-looking building. I expected a weirdly impractical treatise on some new art form involving architecture (Art-ketecher, maybe?).

Instead, d/Visible magazine has some intriguing ideas.

Okay, maybe some are weird.

And, there's a summary of what the University of Minnesota learned about ceiling height and thinking.

Think Recycling is New? Think Again

Read "5 Kinds of Creative Recycled Architecture: Bottles, Cans and Other Unusual Building Materials" - and look at the date on one of the photos.

Saving the Whales: This Isn't What You'd Expect

"Abraham Gesner" " ... saved more whales than Green Peace ever will ... "

He worked out a way to distill kerosene from petroleum - and killed the whaling industry.

Caution: This isn't your usual "save the whales" article.

"Star Wars" Lightsabers: Build Your Own

I understand that Luke Skywalker's lightsaber is on the shuttle Discovery as part of the 30th anniversary of "Star Wars."

The plan is for the famous prop to be left in space.

Meanwhile, "Lightsabers 2.0" discusses how to make an equally non-functional lightsaber, with a little background on how the original was put together.

Geeks: Here's Someone Who Understands

"15 Reasons Geeks make Great Boyfriends" may be fictional humor, or remarkable insight.


"3.) They’re more romantic than they’re given credit for. Ok true, their idea of romance might be to make up a spiffy web-page with all the reasons why they love you, with links to pics of you and sonnets and such… but hey. It lasts longer than flowers, plus you can show your friends.

"8.) They’re relatively low-maintenance. Most can be fueled on pizza, Twinkies and Mt Dew. No complicated dinners needed here, so if you’re not the best cook, eh. Can you order a pizza?"

Manga Eyes are Not Created Equal

"Archvermin's "Drawing the Manga Eye: a Brief Guide" Brief outlines on " on - "Brief outlines on how to construct a basic manga eye, including different ways of depicting the eye, and specific examples on how the professionals do it."

This is a pretty good not-quite-starting point. I'd say it helps, if you have some drawing experience before using this page.

I appreciated the variety of styles / types shown.

Sorry About That!

I don't know what happened to Monday this week.

Maybe I'll find it, lurking behind the desk or hiding among the file folders.

Anyway, I'm back, and will try to catch up.

My Web 2.0 Darling, I really digg you...

"A Web 2.0 Valentine" may not be the ultimate in Valentine's Day greetings.

In fact, I'm pretty sure it's not.

But, it's clever and it looks like each of the word/icons are clickable.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Castles (also Palaces and a Mansion)

"26 Amazing Castles from Around the World" - starts with Alcazar of Segovia, ends with Matsumoto Castle.

Some, like Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, I'd have called palaces, , and there's a Canadian mansion in the mix, but the photos are good.

End Hunger, Ten Grains of Rice at a Time?

"Free Rice / for each word you get right, we donate ten grains of rice to a hungry person through an international aid agency."

I can think of worse ways to spend your time.

(Free Rice says that it is a sister site of the world poverty site,, and distributes rice through the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). is registered by an individual, John Breen, of Bloomington, Indiana. I suppose that charities with massive staffs and east coast addresses are more impressive: but I don't have a bias against individual initiative.)

Submitting to Some Suggestions

I'm leaning on today. Here's another discussion thread with good information:

"How can I submit my blog to"

Like Widgets? Read This First

"Don't Beat Your Blog To Death," a BlogCatalog discussion thread, gives an informed opinion or two on widgets.

If you must use one, read this.

Making Money? Blogging? Apparently

(Thanks to VioletsVintage, on BlogCatalog, for bringing this article to my attention.)

"Yes, some blogs are profitable - very profitable," in today's San Francisco Chronicle, starts with an account of a blog that started as a hobby and wound up needing a CEO.

That doesn't mean that every blog will be a bonanza. Most are, well, the sort of thing that oozes out of those low spots in the back 40. the SFC article said, "But out of that morass, an elite of professionally produced blogs has risen thanks to their quality of writing, originality of thought and usefulness of information."

Like everything else: unless you're someone like Paris Hilton, you have to work to succeed.

As for P.H. - no, that's a whole different topic.

Dale Chihuly - Artist

"Dale Chihyly" has a home page (today, at least) with a beautiful, almost stunning, twilight photo of a pond, a fountain, a conservatory, and a barge with incredible glowing tentacles.

Right now, I think it's beautiful. But bear this in mind: It's after One in the morning, and I'm short on sleep.

The Ancient World - Photos, Maps, Pictures

"Near East Images / My project to create a database of archaeological images of the near east" - ancient subject, new blog, lots of pictures. Enjoy.

Scary Story for IT People

no title, just a one-panel cartoon of some young fellows - probably in IT - around a campfire

World War II Reality Check

"A time-line of World War II" - I don't usually get this serious in "Apathetic Lemming of the North," but this is a pretty good reminder of what went down in WWII.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

15 Pieces of Advice from Dave Barry

"15 Things It Took Me Over 50 Years To Learn" - self-explanatory. And, Dave Barry wrote this.

If You Liked the Face on Mars, You'll Love...

An American Indian wearing headphones? " Check out the Cool Pictures Captured on Google Earth!" starts with a Google Earth photo from Alberta, Canada that looks like, well, a [whatever the pc term is] with headphones. I think you'll like this collection.

Friday, October 19, 2007

"Back Story" as Story-Killer

"All-time Top-7 Plotting Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs: 'BS' stands for Back Story" is a lengthy, but amusing, discussion of how to kill a novel or short story with back story.

Mistakes #3 through #6 were available tonight in the side bar. Have fun.

Nanotech Batteries in Clothing

"Weaving Batteries into Clothes / A new machine that makes nanostructured fibers could turn soldiers' uniforms into power supplies."

Tomorrow, nanotech military uniforms.

After that, button-down shirts that recharge your cell phone might be only the beginning.

Inka Essenhigh: Artist of Melting and/or Motion

Never heard of Inka Essenhigh?

Neither had I. But this artist has created quite a few works, showing a world that seems be be either melting or in constant motion.

Something New that Water Can Do

"Bridge of Water Spans 25mm" doesn't have any obvious practical applications. But it's cool.

Besides, this tiny bridge could turn out to be as important as the "uranium rays" that Marie Curie studied.

Think the Harappan Civilization is Old? Read This!

"Drowned Indian city could be world's oldest" is an account of a very old, and quite damp, archaeological site in India.

Walt! Say it Ain't So! Mickey was a Knockoff??

"Micky Mouse vs Mickey Mouse" raises the possibility that Mickey Mouse was copied from a mouse toy made by the Performo-Toy Company (I hadn't heard of them,either), called - Mickey.

There are a lot of coincidences, but I think there's at least a 50-50 chance that Walt Disney at least thought he had come up with "Mickey" on his own. He may have seen the PTC Mickey, and retained an unconscious memory - or Walt's Mickey may look like PTC's Mickey because both are highly anthropomorphised and abstracted mice, designed by people in the same culture at the same time.

Sadly .... no, I'll let you read it.

(However, before getting boiling mad about Disneyco over this, remember the flap over the Nebraska ETV Network's logo, which they paid a commercial artist to create. Then, in 1975, NBC trotted out a new logo that exactly the same as the Nebraska ETV logo. The last I heard of it, Nebraska ETV was about to be squashed by NBC's legal department.

Happily, NBC decided to pay ETV's expenses for creating and distributing a new logo, and threw in some new equipment.)

Japan's Kyoto: Ancient City,
Really New-Looking Train Station

"Kyoto Station is the Ultramodern Heart of Kyoto" - the title pretty well sums it up.

This page describes the Kyoto Station, with links to some quite impressive photos.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Group Hug With Pets Goes Horribly Wrong

What Was He Thinking?!

Seven photographs, all probably taken in a second or two, show what happened when a college-age guy tries to photograph a group hug with two cats and a dog.

People familiar with cats may enjoy the evolution of expression on the feline faces.

Another Big, Shiny, Architectural Marvel/Sculpture

"Penang Global City Center Malaysia" looks like it's going to be one seriously futuristic-looking collection of convention center/retail and office space/condominiums/performing arts center/observatory - with a hotel and service apartments. And, out-doing the Sydney Opera House in sagacious planning, ample parking.

Whence the Spork?

"Spork's Family Tree" - a diagram that's funnier if you know what a spork is.

Language, Verbs, and How Our Brains Work

"Why Has Steven Pinker Studied Verbs for 20 Years? / The rules of language may reveal how our brains really work."

I found this a fascinating read, for two reasons.

First, Pinker has been systematically studying language, verbs in particular. He's found what he thinks is a connection between language and 'hardwired' circuits in the brain. I learned, a few decades ago, that languages that develop in places all around the world, where children from families speaking different languages live and play together have a fairly consistent syntax: and that this common syntax is similar to English's. Which isn't too surprising, considering that English developed on part of an island invaded by
  • Romans
  • Picts and Scots
  • Angles, Frisians, Jutes, and Saxons
  • Vikings
  • Normans (French-speaking Vikings)
... with the local language and invaders' languages being pureed in the blender of time. At the time, I thought this suggested, strongly, that there might be something in the structure of the human brain that affected how our languages work.

Second, by suggesting that human language is, in part, 'hardwired,' Pinker is implying that human beings are not born as blank slates. This brings up the old nature/nurture debate. And, brings into question the belief of society's more rarefied strata in the perfectibility of humanity.

Facts can have hard, sharp, edges: but I think they're good for us.

Make an Invisible Folder (Well, Sort of)

"Create an Invisible Folder" won't foil the experts, but it's still a neat trick.

A Pretty Good Collection of Quotes

" Aphorisms" is a set of 11 quotes, from
"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."
- A. Maslow


"We are now at the end of the beginning."
- W. Churchill

Dmitriev's "Moon and sea" seascape

""Moon and sea" / Artist George Dmitriev" is one beautiful painting: a seascape with the water's transparency very nicely handled.

The thing's an online postcard, too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sun Tzu: The Art of War
Translated into English

Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" (孫子兵法 or 孙子兵法) is thought to be the oldest written work on military philosophy in the world, written about two and a half millennia ago.

This is the contents of an online English translation, with some commentary.

Besides being old, this work contains some remarkable insights.

Craig Kosak Paintings

Although it's contemporary, I can imagine someone with good taste paying to have one of the "Craig Kosak paintings" hung on the wall.

And Now, for Something Completely Different: Antique Taxidermy

Just when you think you've seen it all: "Antique Taxidermy." In addition to photos and illustrations, it seems they're collecting a list of taxiderminsts

Good-Cheap-Fast: Pick Two

Old idea on a new sign. This photo shows a sign displaying the old 'good-cheap-fast: pick any two' business adage.

Smile: These are Similes

"Simile of the Day Generator (v1)" combines 141 abstract nouns with 236 concrete nouns, for 33,276 possible similes.

This is definitely not Shakespeare, but it's fun.

The last simile I got was "Compromise is like coffee."

Monday, October 15, 2007

That's One Down Bird

We've all felt like the third bird in "an dats when i new i wuz not favrite:" a photo of an apparently-dysfunctional avian family.

Better Ideas From India: If it Doesn't Work, Fix it!

This really is a 'better idea,' in my opinion.

Apparently, developing countries envy India's "prestigious higher education system" - the only problem is that it doesn't produce competent graduates.

Now, here's a radical idea for you: If something hasn't worked before, try something else!

An outfit called End Poverty in South Asia has a blog post titled "Innovation in India." It's short piece, and looks like a good introduction - although certainly from the point of view of the author.

There's a link there, to a paper done by Devesh Kapur and Pratap Bhanu Mehta about India's higher education system (dated July 2, 2007). They call it "Indian Higher Education Reform: From Half-Baked Socialism to Half-Baked Capitalism." I haven't read all 66 pages, but a quick glance suggests that the authors did their homework.

Then, there's the National Innovation Foundation / in support of grassroots innovations. "The Department of Science and Technology established National Innovation Foundation (NIF) of India in February, 2000, with the main goal of providing institutional support in scouting, spawning, sustaining and scaling up grassroots green innovations and helping their transition to self supporting activities."

More ideas - good, dubious, and strange - at "Better Ideas From ... "

Better Ideas From ...

Posts about inventions, ideas, innovations, and inspirations from around the world: Not that I think all of them are equally useful: or even well-advised. But they're all imaginative.

Better Ideas From Japan:
Cubical Watermellons

"Square peg, round hole" tells how Japanese farmers have addressed the problem of the efficient packing of watermelons on grocery shelves.

More ideas - good, dubious, and strange - at "Better Ideas From ... "

Steam Powered Motorcycles:
A Concept Whose Time Has Come?

For those who think that what this world needs is a good steam-powered motorcycle, there's hope. Connecticut Antique Machinery's "Restoration of the Hubbard Steam-Powered Motorcycle" recounts.

China's Cool New Buildings:
Eco-Aware, Too

"10 Amazing new buildings in China" shows that China can produce impressively different architecture, in model or concept form, at least, and make it eco-friendly, too.

It's all in preparation for the 2008 Olympics in China.

The page linked above is on the Beijing Olympic Games 2008 / Countdown to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games site.

Apparently, China brought in architects from around the world to work on these projects. It's a nice gesture, of course, and rather common in situations like this. Just the same, I can't help but think that, if China let its college students have computers, they might have found more Chinese architects who could do the job.

And Now, for Something Completely Different: A Water Balloon, a Knife, and a Really-Slow-Motion Camera

"Slow motion video sequence of a knife bursting a water balloon" has a high "zowie!" factor for me. It's just a few seconds long, and shows what must have been a fraction of an eyeblink's worth of time.

I suppose it's "educational," but mostly it's fun.

Better Ideas From China: Ban Computers on Campus

It's for their own good, of course. China seems to be very concerned about the psychological welfare of its post-secondary students. explains: "To prevent students from playing too many video games, some universities have banned freshmen from owning computers - stirring up quite a controversy in the process.

Schools including Zhejiang, Nanjing and Shanghai Jiaotong universities instituted the ban with the start of the new semester in September.

They said the measure will help freshmen avoid becoming addicted to computer games."

Elsewhere, you'll see headlines like "Chinese universities: no PCs, gaming for freshmen" and "Computers Banned in Chinese Universities!."

Maybe I'm cynical, but I am open to the idea that there's more to the Chinese ban than concern over how much Frogger the best young minds of China get exposed to.

And, to get on my soapbox for a moment: The next time you run into someone trying to Save the Children From Internet Porn, or Defend Our American/Environmental/Curling Rights From Unregulated Web Traffic - think! Do you really want some bureaucrat, censor, or holier-than-thou type to decide what you can and cannot read?

More ideas - good, dubious, and strange - at "Better Ideas From ... "

Sorry about Saturday
and, Speaking of Skipping Stones

Sorry about missing Saturday. I should be back on track, sending my awareness like a skipping stone across the Web, and reporting whatever seems interesting.

Speaking of which, there's a North American Stone Skipping Association (NASSA), for those who like to turn stone skipping into an organized sport.

Stone Skipping is also called Ducks and Drakes, but that's a whole other topic.

Headbolt Heaters and Mobility in Minnesota

As winter approaches, a tip of the hat to Andrew Freeman, inventor of the headbolt heater.

If you've been in North Dakota, Minnesota, or Montana, you may have noticed that most cars, pickups, SUVs have an electrical cord coming out somewhere between the headlights.

We don't have electric cars up here, not as a rule, at any rate.

Those cords are for headbolt heaters: Wikipedia thinks they're called block heaters.

The Pontoon Boat: Ambrose Weeres' Brainchild

The pontoon boat is only a year younger than I am, which isn't an important fact. It doesn't even make the break for trivia.

Pontoon boats, though, are an important part of the the fleet of recreational watercraft each summer.

Weeres Industries has a pretty good history/biography of Ambrose Weeres, inventor of the pontoon boat, and Minnesota farmer.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Jack Ryan: Artist and TV's Jack Lord

Jack Ryan's paintings hang in over 40 museums, including
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The Whitney Museum in New York
  • The Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York
  • Biblioteque Nationale in Paris
  • The Library of Congress.
There's a pretty good biography of this Irish kid who made good at the Richmond Hill Historical Society's Jack Lord entry.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Skyscrapers, Elevators, and All That

I've been interested in elevators and skyscrapers today (pretty obvious,isn't it?) - and on the chance that you're interested in the background of skyscrapers, and the combination of new technologies that made them possible, here are a few resources:

The First Skyscraper (in New York, anyway)

"The Birth of the Skyscraper / The First Elevator" Columbia University put this page together.

It's part of their "Architecture and Development of New York City" section, which probably explains why the article starts "The history of skyscrapers goes back to the late 1860s, with the construction of the Equitable Life Assurance Company's building on the corner of Broadway and Cedar Street." What city? I'd guess New York.

Office Buildings and Elevators in the New York

"New York Architecture Images / Office Buildings" Is more than just a collection of pictures. It's a sort of mini-history of New York office buildings and elevators.

Higher Ceilings are Better Ceilings? Right?

Actually, we don't seem to know. I picked up this gem at "Office Architecture: Ceiling height."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Glass Houses:
For Homeowners and Architects with a Clear Vision

"A Daily Dose of Architecture / Glass House" is a blog post from 2005 that's still worth reading. For architecture buffs, at least.

I think, looking at houses with glass walls, that an old saying needs to be modified. It's fairly clear that "People who live in glass houses need high fences."

Google Bans (selected) Political Ads:
Trademark Infringement or Content Control?

Never mind the politics. If Google isn't being strictly accurate and complete in it's explanation, bloggers who rely on advertising revenue need to know this.

The Minneapolis, Minnesota, Examiner article, "Google bans ads" sounds frightening, as most good headlines should.

Quoting from the article: "The banned advertisements said, 'Susan Collins is MoveOn’s primary target. Learn how you can help' and 'Help Susan Collins stand up to the money machine.'"

Google says that it rejected the ad because it has a policy about trademarks in ads, and the ads violated that policy.

The policy must be more complicated than just 'don't use trademarks, since "Google routinely permits the unauthorized use of company names such as Exxon, Walmart, Cargill and Microsoft in advocacy ads. An anti-war ad currently running on Google asks 'Keep Blackwater in Iraq?' and links to an article titled 'Bastards at Blackwater — Should Blackwater Security be held accountable for the deaths of its employees?'

Google is so big that the only practical approach for advertisers and bloggers who use Google's advertising services is to figure out what Google likes, and do that. As a private company, Google can treat different advertisers differently, if the company leadership wants to.

I think that the 'Susan Collins' and 'Blackwater' examples give a pretty good idea of what's permitted, and what isn't.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bloggers have Birthdays, Too!

The author of "A little piece of me" has tomorrow's post up already. I think it's an International Date line thing.

At any rate, she's a member of, as I am, and announced the special day there with an invitation to sing her "Happy Birthday."

Being what I am, I couldn't leave it at that, and composed alternative lyrics to the conventional American song. Here it they are:

"Happy Birthday"
(alternative lyrics, to the tune of "Yankee Doodle").

Happy Birthday, me to you,
A very happy birth-day,
Have some fun,
Or chew some gum,
Or sing, "I Did It My Way."

Face Recognition: Teaching the Machine

"Face Maker" is an exercise in transforming abstract images into human faces. I suspect that this particular exercise may be mostly for fun, but I also think that we're looking at the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI).

Buildings to Look at

"The Cool Hunter / Arhitecture" is a look from the UK at seriously cool buildings. Every one featured, today, at least, was somewhere on a continuum between 'incredible' and 'impressive.'
  • Orestad Gymnasium, Denmark
  • Houses W and L, by Pott Architects, for people with virtually no sense of privacy
I trust that Pott Architects doesn't limit house names to the alphabet, as that would severely limit their business.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Foshay Tower, Minneapolis

"Mr. Foshay's Legend " is a pretty good description of the Foshay Tower in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And of it's colorful and ethically challenged namesake.

The Foshay Tower was designed to look like the Washington Monument. It was the first skyscraper built in America west of the Mississippi. For forty years it was the tallest building in Minneapolis.

It's now lost in the forest of steel-and-glass towers of downtown Minneapolis.

But, the Foshay Tower has a 90% occupancy rate, and, considering that it was designed to withstand 400-mile-per-hour winds, it should be around for quite a while.

'And We're All Gonna Die!'
Search Engine Optimization, Journalists, and Facts

"Writing for the Machine: Hysteria among journalists" reminds me of an old joke I just made up:

Recipe for fear and panic:
  • Take one handful of journalists
  • Add a pinch of facts
  • Fold in one gallon of assumptions
  • Shake vigorously
  • Serve before facts rise to surface
The first paragraph of "Writing" reads, "Last year, The New York Times published an article called "This Boring Headline Is Written for Google," which focused on the effect search engines are having on journalistic writing. The primary focus was on the negative impact of "writing for machines" and the corresponding loss of creativity such an endeavor entails."

My hat's off to a real writer, who brought this post up in a BlogCatalog thread.

No Good Deed ...

"What Goes Around, Comes Around" tells about a poor Scottish farmer named Fleming and his son.

I think this brief, true, tale of acts and consequences is worth reading.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Andrew Wyeth: Wide Spaces, Quiet Colors

I like the quiet colors and open landscapes of Andrew Wyeth.

"Andrew Wyeth," the official site.

Artchive's "Andrew Wyeth / (b. 1917)" provides a much longer, and rather more artistic, discussion of Wyeth, Warhol, Russian realism, and Billy Graham. It must be artistic: I don't know what to make of it.

Slow Motion Popcorn Kernel

Since the dawn of civilization, some ten thousand years ago, uncounted millions have toiled and sacrificed to advance society and technology to the point where we, their successors, may view a kernel of popcorn explode in slow motion.

Bananas on the Ceiling, and Other Works of Genius

Some of the designs shown in "It's Nice That / Product Design" may be a part of our everyday life in another few years. Some probably won't. Here's a sample:

"Beautiful recycled bananna (!) chandelier," for example, is just weird enough to wind up in the residence of people with a great deal of wealth and minimal taste.

"Availabot" may be inexpensive enough to justify its function. The thing plugs into a USB port and - no, you need to see it.

"'Brush And Rinse'" could start frivolous lawsuits. The concept is fine, but places demands on the awareness and reflexes of the user.

Then, there's "this ceramic toaster. 'Glide' is pure genius and the rightful winner of Designboom's 'Ceramics for Breakfast' compeition (!)." If you enjoy paper jams in your printer, you'll love this toaster!

Finally, equal rights for floor lamps. In the past, you unwound. Now, the floor lamp does.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

"Le Pont d'Argenteuil:" Monet Masterwork Torn

The good news is that "Le Pont d'Argenteuil" has been thoroughly photographed.

The bad news is that one of a bunch of drunk twits put a fist through it over the weekend.

There's a tear in that masterpiece, about 10 centimeters or 4 inches long.

One of the reasons I like the technologies developed in the last few hundred years is that this Monet has been available, in prints and other reproductionsfrom a variety of sources (those links don't imply endorsement, BTW).

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Six Hours Past Thursday: Odd Name for a Good Blog

" Six Hours Past Thursday" seems to be a blog about investments, dubious-to-fraudulent offers and claims on the Internet, and related topics.

The blog's author is Jack Payne, "...the founder and first editor/publisher of the newsletter, Business Opportunities Digest. His 55 business books have sold over 1.1 million copies, and his best-selling How To Make a Fortune in Finders Fees remained in print 25 years."

This looks like a good online resource, written by someone who knows what he's talking about.
  • "Con Man's Little-Known Stock Options Scams--Legal or Fraudulent?"
  • "Legal Con Man Scam?--Learn How Easy You Can Lose Weight"
  • "Legal Thriller Author Asks: Legal Stock Tips or Con Man Boiler Room?--Are You a Victim?"

Digital Pirates in Cyberspace! It's No Joke

"Piracy of Your Blog Content?" is another discussion thread from that deals with intellectual property theft.

Maybe, considering the word "piracy," I should say intellectual piracy on the digital seas.

I've been away from the BlogCatalog community for a couple of days, and apparently missed quite a bit. Theft of intellectual property isn't anything new, of course, but the Internet has speeded the process up enormously.

On the up side, our new information technology makes catching the thieves easier, too. For example, there are pirate-finding services. I talked about one in "Plagiarism-Finder Site: Copyscape" (August 9, 2007).

Related posts, on Intellectual Property Rights

Want to Switch Blogging Hosts?
It Can Be Done

A discussion thread, "How to switch from Blogger?," gives what looks like good advice on switching from Blogger: and, by extension, switching from other blog hosts, too.

This seems to be a "mine threads from BlogCatalog" day. A blogger could do worse.

More Sploggers

I noticed a discussion thread about sploggers at BlogCatalog again. The online community's discussion was "Do you have someone pinging your posts?"

It's been about a month since I mentioned sploggers (Return of the Sploggers (September 5, 2007)). I can't say I've missed thinking about this class of intellectual property thief.

I've made a list of posts on "Apathetic Lemming of the North" that deal with "Intellectual Property Rights." There's a link to the page on the sidebar.

Related posts, on Intellectual Property Rights

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater"
A Hyper Detailed Architectural Model

"America's Leading Scale Model Builder / Architectural Models 'Fallingwater' Display Model" is the best visual depiction of Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater" that I've seen. And I'm something of a fan of Wright's work.

Aside from the artistry involved in creating this "museum-quality" model, photos on this page, from many angles and distances, show the complex three-dimensional design of this house at least as well as illustrations in 'serious' architectural texts. "Museum-quality" isn't, in my opinion, an exaggeration in this case.

The model is roughly two feet on a side, and on display at Architectural Models, in Norman, Oklahoma. They're selling a limited number of copies, and the price is "inquire." That translates into my dialect as "if you have to ask, you can't afford it."

Finally, I was surprised to find Toad, of "Frog and Toad are Friends," lounging against a terrace, his left arm resting on the terrace edge, in one photo. It struck me as a charmingly whimsical detail. Then I noticed that Toad's head was a decorative vase: see if you can see the same figure.

Fifty Years after Sputnik, Satellites are Everywhere

"What's your Sputnik moment?" is a very good look at what's happened in the last fifty years.

The author, Chris Rowan, points out that in the sixties New Zealand was on the other side of the world, as far as people back in England were concerned. Well, they still are, actually: the point is that communication was effectively limited to mail, and that could take weeks to months.

I remember Sputnik, and lived through the explosion of information technology: If you did, to, this post is a good review.

If you didn't, you really ought to read it: and learn how much a few few tin cans being launched into space changed the world.

Escehw Obfuscation!
Writing Advice For Bureaucrats, and Writers

"WRITING USER-FRIENDLY DOCUMENTS," by "Plain Language," is intended to teach the people who write government documents to write in English, not governmentalese or bureaucratese.

The introduction starts with an understatement. "The traditional way of writing government documents has not worked well. ..."

What follows is very good advice for any writer, not just those hired to elucidate requisite compliances attendant to regulatory documents produced in compliance with processes involving duly-elected officials carrying you their legislative duties as stipulated in constitutional documentation.

"WRITING USER-FRIENDLY DOCUMENTS" has no new ideas, but it's well-written and, well, user-friendly.

Fast Food, Bovine-to-Feline Style

This photograph of a cow, a farmer, and two very interested cats, reminds me of my father's descriptions of life when he was young. Like these cats, he has enjoyed milk still warm from the cow.

The Future Isn't What It Used to Be

"1900 Predictions for the Year 2000" shows state-of-the-art futurology from a little over a century ago.

My guess is that today's futurists will be as accurate, and as flat-out-wrong, about what 2100 will be like.

Still, it's fun to read.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Another Dubai Development: Rich Country, Innovative Architecture

"Seven star 'Jungle' hotel tempts developer in Dubai - images" "Building staff have variously named it 'The Rollmop', 'The Pringle' and 'The Funnel'. Any better suggestions should be posted below."

I suggested "The Vase."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Nitwits, Idiots, and Other Common Pests

"Idiot sightings" proves that you are not alone: Other people deal with "idiots," too.

My favorite, at this moment, is #7: "I work with an individual who plugged her power strip back into itself, and for the sake of her own life, couldn’t understand why her system would not turn on. A deputy with the Dallas County Sheriffs office, no less."

What This Country Needs:
A Transparent Pinball Machine

At last! The Visible Pinball Project has brought America the transparent pinball machine.

No more will Americans wallow in ignorance of what makes the pings, bangs, and clunks!

The Neptune Beach Amusement Museum and Lucky JuJu Pinball Arcade has brought us a pinball machine with transparent walls.

Looks cool.

Star Wars X-Wing to be Launched Next Week

Star Wars enthusiasts have built a Rocket-Powered 21-Foot Long X-Wing Model. They're going to try flying it a week from tomorrow: on October 10, 2007.

Model aviation buffs, amateur rocket hobbyists, and experimental aviation fans might be interested: The article has a modest amount of detail, and quite a few photos showing the construction process.

Sign Seen in Subway

I thought this sign, photographed in a subway station, was funny.

Your results may vary.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Intellectual Property Information Resources

Some say that you should be free to use anything you find online, without paying or giving credit.

Others, particularly those who actually create content, don't agree. Intellectual property rights are real, and are getting better defined for the online world. The first URL here is a pretty good introduction. The other two are better for people who already understand the basics of intellectual property.
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation's "Bloggers' FAQ - Intellectual Property" is a pretty good summary of copyright, trademark, deep links, and related intellectual property concerns. I'm not as convinced of the usefulness of Creative Commons as EFF, but that's my opinion.
  • The Sheppard Mullin Law Firm's "Intellectual Property Law BLOG / Up to Date Information on Intellectual Property Law" "We provide this blog for general informational purposes only." The last few posts are "USPTO Releases Guidelines for Examination Support Document," "The Economist on the Patent Office's "Peer to Patent" Pilot Program," and "Update: Patent Reform 2007."
  • Raymond T. Nimmer's "Contemporary Intellectual Prperty, Licensing && Information Law" is a practical look at intellectual property, by the current Leonard Childs Professor of Law at the University of Houston Law Center. Raymond T. Nimmer is also co-director of the Houston Intellectual Property and Information Law Institute. I particularly appreciated the July 1, 2007, post, "E-Commerce should not be over-regulated."
Related posts, on Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Property Rights

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