Randomness for 7/8

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1) How to save a rusty ruined cast iron skillet.

2) Dad photoshops young daughter into sf/f movies.

3) Insights from a real sword fight.

4) Authors dress up as their favorite characters.

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.

6) Ten ridiculous Kickstarter campaigns people actually supported

7) Conversation with Twitter bots draws in Bank of America. #lol

Randomness for 5/27

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1) A comparison of Zulu and Filipino stick fighting. Video.

2) The Oatmeal on the wonderfulness of the Tesla Model S electric car.

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.

5) The 10 Commandments of Typography.

6) San Francisco “real estate magnate” hides $100 bills around city and leaves clues to their location via twitter account.

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.

Randomness for Mother’s Day

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1) Map of boys names from around the world. I didn’t see one for girls.

2) Huge 3D printer built ten one-story buildings in one day out of construction waste and cement. The video is cool.

3) Sony wages a brutal 35 year war with record producer over their refusal to pay royalties.

4) New Zealand artists create 3D Sand pictures.

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?

6) What are the most overrated and underrated movies?

7) How to tell if you’re reading a gothic, an infographic.

Randomness for 5/1

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1) The LEVERAXE! which twists in your hand to split wood faster. It’s science!

2) Was the drop in crime caused by unleaded gasoline?

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.

Randomness for 4/19

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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

4) The placebo effects of food labeling.

5) Metal Albums With Googly Eyes, a Tumblr.

6) Time is a flat Family Circus, a Tumblr.

7) The best resignation letter ever.

Randomness for 4/8

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1) What is NeoRealism? Video. Extraordinarily interesting contrast between neorealist and Hollywood movie techniques. h/t @RodneyRamsey

2) The Uncomfortable, a collection of deliberately uncomfortable everyday objects.

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.

5) Workouts inspired by your favorite fandoms. Heh.

6) What if the moon was a disco ball? Video. A question we’ve all asked at one point or another.

7) The Love Me Letters, Open Letters to Random People.

Wrecking the idea that popular art is superior to unpopular art

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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.

#SFWApro

MIT tries to turn shitty books into great ones through crude VR

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Via fastcodesign, the folks at MIT have tried to create a book with a crude virtual reality component: a programmable book and vest that supposedly makes the reader feel what the protagonist feels.

Follow the link if you’re curious how it’s supposed to work. There’s an embedded video, too, which I didn’t watch.

Personally, I would be embarrassed for any writer that used this technology. Text will already made the reader feel what the protagonist feels, if you do it right. That’s the point of books (well, one of the points) and having a vest that constricts, warms or cools to simulate emotions is just a distraction from the work a writer’s words are meant to do.

Randomness for 2/6

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1) Supervillain lair in Joshua Tree for sale. So incredibly gorgeous.

2) Here’s that bad advice you were looking for.

3) Frito-Lay crowdsources potato chip flavors, with the expected results.

4) Scientist who took on pesticide finds his reputation under assault from the corporation who makes it.

5) “Motherfuckers live in places that don’t exist, and it comes with a map. My God.” Ice-T records the audiobook for a Dungeons and Dragons novel.

6) The case for a big budget Hawkman movie. Video.

7) How to sneeze in ten languages.

Randomness for 12/4

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1) Surreal paintings onto the human face.

2) 80′s New Wave stars as they are now.

3) Six wild modern playgrounds.

4) The bulletproof Bespoke suit.

5) The sound arrows make as they whiz by. Video.

6) Movie posters as neon signs.

7) Video artist Patrick Liddell uploaded a video of himself, ripped it, then uploaded it again over and over to track the degradation of the recording. Video.