6) The relationship between coffee and mesmerism, and the importance of morning rituals. Video.
2) Stan Lee responds to people who ask him when he’s going to retire. Video.
4) Seventeen-year-old wins science competition by building an efficient algae biofuel lab in her bedroom. I hope this kid becomes a billionaire.
5) Do you get your hair cut at a barber? How to talk your barber about the haircut you want. Includes a helpful video.
7) The novel then steps back in time to explain how Rico went from being just another one of Heinlein’s incurious teenaged dullards to an enthusiastic war criminal. In the process, it paints an interesting picture of the world Rico lives in, as well as of the contents of Heinlein’s id. James Nicoll reviews Starship Troopers.
3) Scully likes Science (remix). Video.
7) CG Deadpool test footage. I’d happily watch this.
5) “There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.” Frankly, I say this fossil isn’t scary enough for the name.
1) A comparison of Zulu and Filipino stick fighting. Video.
3) Five Details They Cut From My Season Of The Biggest Loser. We all knew this show was complete shit, but it’s even worse than I thought.
4) What happens when engineers own dogs. Video.
7) “In my view, the parties do not need a judge; what they need is a rather stern kindergarten teacher” Spiteful upper-class twits drive each other wild.
1) Map of boys names from around the world. I didn’t see one for girls.
5) Movie Scripts Ranked by Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. Hey, the higher the reading level of the script, the more critically-lauded you’d expect it to be, right?
1) The LEVERAXE! which twists in your hand to split wood faster. It’s science!
3) Orion, The Masked Man. The singer, not the comic book character.
4) How to make a “sick edit” with mountain bikes. I don’t even know much about mountain bike videos, but I learn a lot from parodies.
5) Is “mankind” the right word to use when you refer to all human beings? Scholars weigh in.
6) German man builds a “web shooter.” This is very similar to the “mini-railgun” ranged weapon my buddy gave to his Champions martial artist years ago.
7) Lip sync battle between Jimmy Fallon and Emma Stone. Video. This is just flat hilarious and amazing.
1) Baby noises edited into beatboxing. Video.
2) Every live action Marvel movie from 1998 ranked. I’d quibble with some of the rankings, but who wouldn’t? Also, there was no excuse for Elektra being so terrible.
3) The Ten Most Deadly Rocks And Minerals. h/t Kat Richardson
1) What is NeoRealism? Video. Extraordinarily interesting contrast between neorealist and Hollywood movie techniques. h/t @RodneyRamsey
3) Sony gets Blender-made animated short pulled from YouTube even though they have no copyright claim to it. You can still watch it on Vimeo, though.
4) Vatican to digitize 41 million pages of ancient manuscripts. Of course, the manuscript pages themselves will outlast whatever file type the Vatican chooses to put them in.
6) What if the moon was a disco ball? Video. A question we’ve all asked at one point or another.
There was a great piece on Morning Edition yesterday about art that becomes popular versus art that doesn’t. Is there some quality that makes some art successful and preserved forever or is it all just random chance?
Obviously, the big problem with a question like that is that you can look at only one timeline; there’s no way to look at an alternate world where the Potter books never took off (or they did, inevitably).
For those who haven’t clicked the link (you can listen to the short news piece or you can read a transcript of it) a Princeton professor decided to create a number of alternate virtual worlds to test the hypothesis that popular art becomes popular because of its inherent qualities rather than random chance. He created a database of music by unknown, unsigned bands and invited thousands of teenagers to listen and download their songs for free.
Those teenagers were randomly sorted into nine different “worlds.” In one control group, the teens did not get the chance to see which songs other teens selected. In the other eight, they did.
Try not to be wildly surprised, but different songs became popular in different virtual worlds. A song that was number 1 in one setting was 40th (out of 48) in another. Further experimentation established that there was a minimum level of quality below which popularity was not possible, but after that there was no predicting what would be successful and what would not. Read it yourself if you’re curious.
My problem with this is not the assertion that popularity does not come solely from quality, and that a piece of art that is well-known is not inherently better than something obscure. It’s always been perfectly obvious to me that wonderful and excellent books could/should have been popular but weren’t (I’m not talking about me, now).
My objection here is that the good professor chalks popularity up to “chance.” In fact, he (or at least the reporter covering his work) hits the idea of chance very hard. But that’s a black box.
I’ve talked about this sort of thing before, but there are a lot of effects that people attribute to chance simply because they are not well understood. What I would like to see is an experiment that examines the way those songs became popular in each virtual world. Was it an early surge? Was there an early surge that faced a backlash, with the more popular work getting a secondary surge? I’d like to know, and by that I mean that I’d really really like to know.