Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jupiter, Venus and the Moon dance in night sky

The light show's not over yet. Venus and Jupiter are due to pull closer and closer together until about March 12, according to the Washington Post's "Jupiter, Venus and the Moon dance in night sky; five planets come into view," (which includes a cool NASA video!).

If you can catch the action less than hour after sunset over the next few weeks, you can see Mercury too. Mars will be low and tight on the other side of the sky. Earth and Sky has a good field guide in "See all five visible planets in the February evening sky".

Want time and positions at your fingertips? Have smartphone will travel? I recommend Planets by Dana Peters. Then get high (in altitude people, but I'm not terribly picky) so you can get a view of the horizon and get busy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Literary Composites

We all have a mental image of what the characters in our favorite books look like.  Brian Joseph Davis has gone one better, using law enforcement composite software to create a sketch based on the writer's description.  The results aren't perfect, and some hover on the edge of the uncanny valley, but others like Lolita's  Humbert Humbert seem pretty spot on.

He's taking suggestions.  Who would you like to see?

THE COMPOSITES via bookshelves of doom

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hula Cam

Have you ever looked at a hula hoop and thought, "oh, that could be a little more sonic heroic"?  London based artist Helen Buckley did, and the result is a trippy perspective that sends the world spinning.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Nerd Girlfriend

I told you about the spectacle-slinging, sigh-inducing, effortlessly cool clothes magician who brought you Nerd Boyfriend. Well, they have now introduced a website for ladies, Nerd Girlfriend.

There are only a few female-focused images, but I expect that to change. Oh, please, please change. Let there be more. Let the flood gates of female nerdgeist be opened that we may conquor the earth. (Is this what that whole biblical meek prophecy was about? Had they just not invented the word for geek back then?).

Anyhow, I could say more about their dorky but sexy folios from Twin Peaks. I could stand around applauding their choice of dark-horse heroines like Gilda Radnor, Debbie Allen and Jodie Foster, but I am busy. I am very, very busy flicking through those sweet, heart-palpitation inducing images and dreaming of salary increases.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Casualties of War

Green army men are a ubiquitos, classic toy that never seems to go out of style. I know of a particular forty-something-year-old (who shall not be named) that I suspect still plays with 'em. In my youth, I for one, once stole about five of the aforementioned nameless person's stash, sawed of their guns and grenades, painted them with white nail polish and used the re-vamped figures in the frieze of my scale-model of a Roman temple. But that's another post.

The green army men, "Casualties of War," produced by the the Manchester, England-based Dorothy collective were inspired by the unspoken "personal hell soldiers live through after returning home". From the Dorothy website:
"In July 2009 Colorado Springs Gazettea published a two-part series entitled “Casualties of War”. The articles focused on a single battalion based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, who since returning from duty in Iraq had been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, drunk driving, drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides...A seperate investiagtion into the high suicide rate among veterans published in the New York Times in October 2010 revealed that three times as many California veterans and active service members were dying soon after returning home than those being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined."
Unfortunately these bad boys are not for sale.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Mathematics of Lego

Samuel Arbesman's article, "The mathematics of Lego," for Wired explores the correlation between Lego building blocks and biological ones.

I'm not sure which exudes more awesome. The article, the academic paper in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, or the complete manifest used in the study of every type of Lego piece.

Case and point: piece 54166 'Animal Dinosaur Mutant Raptor Leg Right Rear'.

Friday, February 10, 2012

ESA's Mars Express radar gives strong evidence for former Mars ocean

Appears Doctor Who was right. Again.

ESA news article, "Mars Express radar gives strong evidence for former Mars ocean," provides some pretty good food for thought about the past existence of water on Mars and even an ocean. Two oceans have been proposed:
"4 billion years ago, when warmer conditions prevailed, and also 3 billion years ago when subsurface ice melted."
The scientists are careful to detail that they don't think this second ocean existed for long enough for life to have developed, but its nice that they are not ruling out the possibility that further data collected on the first ocean might yield different results.

That being said, John Carter anyone?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I was going to write about the Chrysler/Clint Eastwood Super Bowl ad that won re-election for President Obama. Instead I'm going to write about the giant rickroll the Romney campaign just experienced. Last night Rick "Man-on-dog, dead-baby-cuddler, anti-blah-people" Santorum won all three Republican  primary events in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado.

And he won them quite handily with 55% of the vote in Missouri, 45% in Minnesota and 40% in Colorado. Those are pretty big numbers in a 4-way race (don't forget Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are still in this thing). Couple that with the fact that Ricky actually won Iowa as well and it means he has won half of the contests so far.

What does this all mean? Well, not much really, but maybe a lot.  You see, these little contests are a bit misleading, their purpose is not to actually elect the Republican presidential nominee but to determine the makeup of the delegates who will go to the Republican National Convention in late August to nominate the Republican presidential candidate. And every state does it differently with varying degrees of importance to the overall nomination. For example, as the Romney campaign will undoubtedly point out often over the next few days, the Missouri primary meant absolutely nothing, no delegates were assigned in any way. And Romney is still easily winning the delegate count with more than half of the currently assigned delegates.

But, he also has less than 10% of the delegates required for the nomination, meaning this race is still very much up in the air. And therein lies the problem, in poll after poll Republican voters have shown that they would kinda like someone other than Romney. First it was Michele Bachmann, then it was Rick Perry, then Herman Cain, then Newt Gingrich. Now it's Rick's turn. It's unlikely that he can translate his audition as the not-Romney candidate into anything substantial just as the others couldn't but yesterday certainly takes the wind out of Romney's sails.

Because the longer this internal Republican slugfest goes on the more difficult it will be for Romney to pivot into the general election. And the longer his Republican opponents attack him, the longer President Obama can grow his campaign coffer and hope for the economy to continue improving. So hang in there Ricky, Newt and crazy old coot, Ron Paul. You all are fighting a losing battle, Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. But I like to see the contest, it makes me giggle.

Friday, February 3, 2012


There's a new first-person shooter in town. However, instead of changing an M16 for a shotgun, you'll be switching the zoom and film angles for your video camera.

Being developed by Defiant Development, an Australian-based group, Warco is an FPS with the intention of simulating the experience of a war correspondent (or warco).

From deviant's website, the object of the game is to:

"Record dramatic images of war, save them in-game, then edit the results into a compelling frontline TV news story." 

One of the interesting aspects about this concept, is how Warco developers have latched onto the way gamers have already been using video games to create movies. For instance, Red vs Blue appeared on the scene just as gameplay cinematic experiences, and the "Machinima" movement in general increased in popularity. Players of Quake and Halo have spent hours filming and editing films of their gameplay.  And clips from the Halo community's best films are routinely submitted to content generators like Halo Waypoint (I recommend any of the 'top five' or 'top ten' content).

Ars Technica has a good discussion of Warco at, "Warco: an FPS where you hold a camera instead of a gun".

While Warco is not on the market yet and only prototypes have been tested, I, for one, will be waiting with baited breath.

PS  You can watch episodes of Red vs Blue, here. But that's another post.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Best reality show EVER.

It's possible that you've missed it. The best reality show ever created. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker's recall petition verification webcam. You would think a webcam of people reviewing petition signatures would be boring, uninteresting, pedestrian. I mean check out the blog. Recall cost estimates this, scanning update that, morning web training this, new webcam angle that. But you would be wrong. Behold the Recall Cam Twitter feed.

As you can see the Twitter feed hasn't been updated since January 25, which makes me sad. But start at the beginning and read it all the way through (gonna take a few hours, I'll wait). Hilarious, no? Better than 90% of the crap you could watch on network/cable TV. It's MST3K for the political set. Or just people who love good snark. Which I do. Which is why I've watched about 4.5 hours of people WORKING... possibly while at work. Seriously, if someone hasn't pitched this to some TV exec by now we should just nuke Hollywood and be done with it. Here's the pitch:

"Sir, I have an idea. What if we had a live feed of some mundane office space with no sound and then we allowed the viewing audience to create the characters, dialog and plot? We crowd source the entire show except for the video. It would be The Office, but not the lame(ish) American version, but the British version, only we wouldn't have to guess what people like, they would literally tell us what they like."

"Johnson, that's brilliant, I already envision a spin-off show about the major contributors."

Anyhoo, I stumbled upon this bit of brilliance via a Wonkette post. What? You don't know Wonkette? Blasphemy. It's only the best political snark on the planet. I mean, the Library of Congress wouldn't include the entirety of its posts for no reason, would it? Maybe, it also archives Twitter.

Housekeeping 1: This is my first... second guest blog spot. I hope I passed the audition. (Old person pop culture reference, look it up).

Housekeeping 2: If the boss clears it I'd like to point out that I have my own blog. Actually I have 7 other blogs besides that one but I'm not going to talk about them until I have more than 1 or 2 posts on them. So, never, probably.

Housekeeping 3: Photo courtesy of Wonkette via Recall Cam, who I think is the originator of it.