Saturday, March 23, 2013

Man draws maze by hand, takes seven years

Like mazes? You'll be begging for a copy of this one. A Japanese woman unearthed her father's maze, which he spent seven years drawing. Is he a graphics artist or perhaps in some mathematical or engineering field? No, he is a janitor at a university.

There are undiscovered universes inside of all of us.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Your Whacko Conspiracy Video of the Week

Meet Macon Carrington, who has his own YouTube channel and would like to have a word with you about the secret, horrific rituals that Scientologists and Freemasons inflict on hapless kids. With demonstrations on dolls and better special effects than most History Channel shows.

Oh, he's also nuttier than squirrel scat and hair-raisingly creepy besides.

DISCLAIMER: Which is not to say that Scientologists or Freemasons are exactly nice people, and in fact there is evidence that Scientologists have done mean stuff to people before.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Iowa lapdance scholarship

You've probably heard more than one stripper, poledancer, or other adult entertainer claim that she's doing this to work her way through college. But how about, when you're done, you keep working to put somebody else through college, too? And that was the inspiration for the idea of the lapdance scholarship...
"The LapDance Scholarship was founded in December 2010 by Hailey Jude Minder, a self-proclaimed vaginally-funded experience artist.  As an artist, Hailey has always been interested in, and often troubled by, the sources of fine arts funding. Having become somewhat disenchanted with the whole search for funding and the sources of such funds, Hailey set out to make her own.  Moonlighting as a stripper twice a week, Hailey is bringing funding for the arts into the trenches.  She has funded her own art in this manner and now wishes to help her fellow artists achieve their goals."
Courtesy of The Great God Pan Is Dead, where the complete story also involves the amazing story of the project to turn copies of dildos into art.

One of which I'll post here, because to hell with being squeamish about it...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Tex Avery war propaganda - "Blitz Wolf"

Sure, you've seen classic WWII propaganda cartoons before. We've all probably watched the Donald-Duck-in-Nazi-land to death. But this is a rarer one, from the cheeky, loopy, surreal animation of Tex Avery. All the staples of Avery are there - fourth-wall-breaking post-modern sign gags, wolf whistles at a girly magazine, literal listening devices made out of giant ears that would tickle Salvador Dali, and improbably gag weapons.

Oh, and unfettered racism, nationalism, and jingoism. And buy some more war bonds, dammit!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Steampunk automatons

Not many artifacts from 500 years ago strike this kind of balance between "astounding" and "skin-crawlingly creepy", but this windup toy mechanical monk certainly claims the title. The thing works perfectly; on winding, it marches around in a square moving its arms and head, mouthing (presumably) Latin chants. Here's a video of the device in action:

It's just one example of automatons, a lost art of entirely clockwork mechanical toys and figures. In this day and age, the sum total of animated figures most people may encounter in a lifetime is at a theme park. We know some of the arts from this era, such as cuckoo clocks and coin-operated fortune tellers, but few appreciate just how hard Renaissance people worked to try to make convincing androids using only gears, chains, and springs.

You'll find many more examples at the UK site House of Automata. Here's a few more fascinating artifacts from this lost, magical era:

And there were quite a variety of clever mechanisms deployed for these. For instance, why wind a toy when you can power it entirely by dumping in a bucket of sand?
And here's a Chinese magician set from 1920 - doing an actual magic trick!

Monday, March 11, 2013

"Simplified" Ptolemaic family tree

From the Wikipedia article on the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, 305-30 BC.

Either this chart is too confusing or there was some nauseatingly impossible feats of coupling and whelping going on (some of these look like they had 3 parents?). It takes inbred family trees to new... something.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Weird video short: Solipsist

Certainly a tour de force of arresting visuals, even if its mad little world doesn't make much sense. What the heck, it's Sunday afternoon, what else do you have to do?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The airplane junkyard

What, did you think old airplanes just get patched up and sent back in the sky? Silly you.

That's an aerial the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, just near Tucson, Arizona. Messy Nessy calls it a "boneyard" but unless you're deliberately invoking imagery from The Who's Tommy, I don't see the connection. It's a junkyard, for planes instead of cars.

If we fret every time a CRT monitor goes into a landfill, what happens when we run out of places to put all these planes?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Girl never ages, 16-year-old trapped in nine-month-old body

Geneticists and doctors are flipping over studying her genetic makeup, looking for the possible "Methusalah" gene that led to this kid's unique case. But before we rush to catch what she's got in order to slow down the ravages of time, consider that Brooke Greenberg has the mental capacity of a nine-months to one-year old. Sixteen years in diapers doesn't sound all that fun now, does it?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Russian family that was isolated from the world in the far northern reaches of Siberia for 40 years

"Warily, the three strange figures approached and sat down with their visitors, rejecting everything that they were offered—jam, tea, bread—with a muttered, "We are not allowed that!" When Pismenskaya asked, 'Have you ever eaten bread?' the old man answered: 'I have. But they have not. They have never seen it.' At least he was intelligible. The daughters spoke a language distorted by a lifetime of isolation. 'When the sisters talked to each other, it sounded like a slow, blurred cooing.'"
It was the Lykov family, members of the pre-Bolshevik Russian Orthodox church. When the Bolsheviks overtook Russian, Orthodox believers fled to the mountains - and apparently, some of them fled deeper than others. This family was discovered hundreds of miles from the nearest human habitat. They had been holed up on a homestead farm for 40 years,m and had completely missed world history from 1936 to 1978. They had noticed the satellites in the sky at night, but concluded that "People have thought something up and are sending out fires that are very like stars."

And the matriarch of the family is the only surviving member today. Here's a video interview with her, although you'd have to translate from the Russian.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Think your winter's bad? Be glad you're not in Verkhoyansk!

Verkhoyansk, in the Sakha Republic of Russia, is within the Arctic circle and considered close to the coldest pace on planet Earth, being one of the "cold poles", with temps running below freezing October through April and as low as -49-degree F in January.

Here's the town, competing with the other "cold pole" ( Oymyakon ) for title of "coldest place on Earth. The lowest temperature in Oymyakon recorded was -67.7 degrees, but Verkhoyansk citizens say that's nothing, their lowest temperature was -67.8 degrees. I'll bet the citizens of Verkhoyansk like to poke fun at Oymyakon by going over there and unzipping their parkas going "It's so hot here, how can you stand it?"

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Welcome to Vernon California, where homes are nonexistent and the votes don't matter.

Here is the perfect Industrial Gothic set-up: A city with only 90 residents, told whom to vote for, tightly controlled, existing as a paradise exclusively for corporations. You say corporations are people? Well just wait until they kick you out of your house and take over!

The few residents "lucky" enough to get in enjoy largely ceremonial occupations at cushy wages. But it comes at a price: You live as a virtual prisoner of the city council, told what to do, and especially how to vote. One citizen's experience:
"Algee said he got his ballot by mail and decided to go to City Hall to fill it out and turn it in; as he stood at the counter, a city employee hovered nearby, watching him mark his choices.

'I pointed to one of their candidates and looked at her and she nodded, yes, that one,' he said. 'So I went to the next one and looked at her and she nodded again. That's how it worked.'"
The eerie government setup of Vernon, California, has led to uncontested incumbent elections since 1980. A quote from that Wiki:
"Most of the city's less than 90 voters are city employees or connected to city employees who live in homes rented at a nominal fee. In 1979 a firefighter tried to run for mayor and was immediately evicted and told he couldn't run. In 2006 a group of outsiders tried to move into Vernon and run for office. The city tried to cancel their registrations but was ordered to allow them to run and to count the ballots. Almost none of the city employees voted for them. Leonis Malburg, the mayor for fifty years, was convicted of voter fraud, conspiracy, and perjury in December 2009. In May 2011, the former city administrator Bruce Malkenhorst, Sr., accepted a plea deal for misappropriating $60,000 in public funds."
In spite of the austere population, close to 100,000 people are employed at warehouses and factories within the city limits. The city motto is indeed "Exclusively industrial". With the tightly controlled government fortress and virtually no one to cry foul, companies can get away with things in this city that us mere mortals are denied. For instance, city leaders had the power to kick Southern California Edison out of town and build their own power plant - which charges them rates 40% lower than the California standard.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

If this used to be TV, what happened?

Public Access TV in the 1980s - they were desperate for content! "It's the law." - Anybody could air their videotape and everybody did. For being such a wholesome enterprise, they sure pushed the sex, sex, sex. And drugs. And sex. And ventriloquist acts. And wacky costumes. And unbelievably untalented schmoos. But mostly lots and lots of sex. Basically if 4chan got to run TV, this is what it would look like.

We don't even have this much liberty on the Internet now - what happened?