Saturday, August 06, 2011

Russian Real Pin-ups

Jan found this page of new Russian Pinups. They are photos, but quite stylized, may be processed a bit.
"Because of the devastation of World War II, Russian "girls" in the '40s and '50s were taught to be tough and work hard. I am saddened by the fact that Russia never had the chance to enjoy the happy pin-up times of America's postwar period. In fact, cheerful American pin-up art was considered in Soviet Russia to be politically incorrect, decadent and flat-out immoral, the product of a culture that could never understand the true nature of the human condition."

Rango, grungy reality (updated thrice)

Rango, warmly recommended.
With every new CGI (Computer Generated Images) movie I see (and I see them all), I get more impressed with what they do. It's astounding.
Rango is funny and avant garde. And the reality, the rendering of this super-grungy Western town and the hard-boiled critters of all kinds who inhabit it, it's amazing.

The character designs are outstanding too. Every character, even minor ones, is different and a work of art. "Beans", for instance, the love interest: she's definitely a lizard, and definitely alien to a human, and yet, durn it, she is pretty somehow.

And then there's the lighting. Just look at these, dat ain't no cartoon.


... I love the subtle variations in size and color of the scales. 

Not to mention the Acting that the animators do with computer-created faces these days; a host of little subtleties bring over the emotions. 

I like movies/stories which have time for some abstraction. This has a bit: for instance in the underground sequence, there's a gigantic eye, the size of a circus dome, which opens in the side of the wall while the villagers walks by. It's beautiful, first of all. And then, nobody pays it any attention, and a moment later, someone says half to himself: "that was a big one". And it's never explained! Love it. 

You always see, in the making-of's of CGI movies, the actors standing alone with a microphone, saying their lines. I've always wondered "why don't they bring them together so they can act off each other? It would have much more energy and be much more fun for them." Lo and behold, that's just what they did in Rango, and that's exactly what happened. 

Caffeine and other drugs

Reader Anna found this interesting article about caffeine and drugs.
In February 1936, in order to pep herself up for a party, she took several of the grain-and-a-half caffeine citrate tablets. "Shortly afterward she became silly, elated, and euphoric. As hours passed she consumed more and more of the tablets until before the party started she had taken the contents of the box-forty tablets, sixty grains," equivalent to 1,800 milligrams of pure caffeine. "She became confused, disoriented, excited, restless and violent, shouted and screamed and began to throw things about her room." Despite her deep religious feelings, "she became exceedingly profane.

There is a widespread tendency to see strong and illegal drugs as "drugs", and legal and common drugs as "not drugs". Yet caffeine and alcohol are about as dangerous in large dozes as other drugs (a lethal doze of alcohol is less than twice that of a strong drunken effect). Education and relaxed control would be much more constructive than hysteria and heavy-handed control of selected (by lord knows what criteria) drugs.

Two sites with lots of info on a wide range of drugs: and Erowid (user experiences, first-hand).

Hyper-active minds

Hyper-active minds, article. The suppressed power of introverts.

Starlings on Otmoor

[Thanks to Scott]
Apropos the Sort Sol phenomenon...

... and maybe they are just having fun and being creative?

See especially from around 3.15.

Sort Sol (and Lydia Lunch)

Sort Sol (early on: "Sods") was (and is) a Danish band which was huge amongst a central core of rock lovers for Denmark in many years (late eighties til early naughties), though of course that didn't exactly make them rich.

[If you prefer the more melodious stuff, try Elia Rising, near the bottom of this post.]

(The first one sounds a lot better in Hi-fi and loud, but you get the idea. It might be recorded off a TV.)

The one below is old. A bit special.

... Good Lord, they're playing again! Kewl. (Danish.)

Hey, this one I didn't even know, but I like it. (I was otherwise a bit estranged from them after the mid-nineties, where they changed style.)

Interesting tidbit from wikipedia:

Sort sol is a nature phenomenon in the marshlands in southwestern Jutland, Denmark, in particular the marsh near Tønder and Ribe. Very large numbers of migrational starlings gather there in spring and autumn when they move between their winter grounds in southern Europe and their summer breeding grounds in Scandinavia and other countries near the Baltic Sea.
Sort sol takes place in the hours just after sunset. The birds gather in large flocks and form huge formations in the sky just before they decide for a location to roost for the night. The movements of the formations have been likened to kind of a dance or ballet and the birds are so numerous that they seem to obliterate the sunset, hence the term "sort sol" (Danish for "black sun"). Sort sol in the marsh near Tønder can occasionally comprise a formation with up to one million birds. Usually flocks break up when the number of individuals exceed about half a million birds due to excessive internal disturbances in the flock.

One million birds! I'd like to see that. I wonder if the band had heard of this phrase? I always thought they simply took the name from their second LP "Under En Sort Sol" (Under A Black Sun). Earlier they were named Sods, but they no longer played punk and didn't find the name fitting anymore.

It seems I missed out when I never bought the album "Snake Charmer". Here's a sample. The female vocal is awesome.

TCGirl found this Interview/music video (Danish). I don't know how, cause I had used search for interviews, didn't find that one.

I have a friend by the way (hej Zadis!) who used to play with Peter Peter, who played guitar for many years in Sort Sol. Brilliant hard guitarist. But in a bit of a state, it seems from this interview (Danish). He says that all the years he played with them were completely wasted time, but that he has managed to almost was away all memories of it in drink! The interviewer points out that for the grateful audience/listeners it was hardly wasted, but PP says that he don't know about that, for he doesn't hang around and socialize, so he only has his own experience to judge from, and from that it has been *waste*. Geez. What a pity, such an ultra-limited viewpoint.

Friday, August 05, 2011

The cliff's edge? (updated)

It seems the news now is full of visions of the whole Western World (at least) standing on the edge of an economic abyss of imposing proportions. If that happens, I wonder what that looks like.
Update: it seems that this could be part of the answer to that question.

"A year ago, we were staring into the abyss. Since then, we have fortunately taken a huge step forward." 


Morcheeba - What's Your Name

Morcheeba is very powerful pop music. Genre-transcending.


Have you heard of the old Hitch-Hiker's Guide To the Galaxy text-based game? There is a beautifully illustrated version of on BBC's site. Two versions, actually.

Almost makes me wish that games did not bore me so quickly. It seems to be one of those addictions I just can't seem to acquire, like alcohol. Probably a good thing.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Futurama - EyePhone

22Mbps over 12,000 square miles

New wifi standard coming up, up to 22Mbps over 12,000 square miles. 
In the context of the push for gigabit fiber, 22Mbps doesn't seem that fast—and remember, that's a theoretical maximum speed. However, 802.22 will have a huge impact on areas without access: the standard would make it very easy to blanket rural areas in wireless broadband and could also see use in developing countries.

The bandwidth is coming from the "white space" left over from the dumping of analogue TV a couple years ago. This seems like a potential good use. Might partially make up for all those durn broadband satellites we were promised over ten years ago but which never arrived. 

Accent on Service

Excerpt from The Trick To Money Is Having Some.


Storytelling, the break-out tale

Have you noticed how most storytelling, particularly TV shows (which may be the most important form of storytelling right now), all consists of people trying to break free of something, and they never do.
That's why I enjoy the rare story like Office Space, where they actually succeed.

How about a story about an office girl who decides that she'd rather be a lesbian and a rock basist in Manchester, she goes and it actually works and she's a lot happier!
Sure, there'll be problems along the way to keep the story interesting, but none of that banging-the-head-on-the-wall forever stuff. It's stale and unproductive.

Sun-free photovoltaics

Sun-free photovoltaics, article.

Materials engineered to give off precisely tuned wavelengths of light when heated are key to new high-efficiency generating system.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

To double-dip or not to double-dip

This article is just one of many who circle around the speculations about whether we really are in an economic recovery, or whether only half the house has fallen yet.

The Art of Studio Ghibli

The Art of Studio Ghibli, part 2

If you like good animation, but don't know Studio Ghibli, you've missed out.


Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.
           -- Frank Zappa

Yes. Pretty amazing. 
Then, so is most other jobs, if you think of it. 

Monday, August 01, 2011

Infographics and art

I like infographics (which are all the rage they say), and I'm beginning to think about them in artistic terms. 'Cuz they start with interest in looking closer, something the artist is often hungry for. And since a graphic can be almost anything, you can build in your art right there. Your text too, humor, whatever.

On the right is a fun one. (Needs to be clicked to be readable, obviously. And clicked on again in the new window, unless you have a 5-feet high monitor.)
(Apropos the humor, it does not even have to be made up: "Men are 28% more likely to seek medical help for a rectal foreign body".)

Oh, and here's a pretty one for the Apple Fanboy Zombies like me. (Unless they had a source to all those simple-graphic representations of all those products (and I doubt it), then making this one was a lot of work.)

See what I mean? One which one likes just begs to become a poster.

"The Wee Free Men" free

Terry Pratchett press release:
To coincide with the paperback release of I Shall Wear Midnight, Transworld are making the first Tiffany book The Wee Free Men available to read for free on their website.  You can currently read the first 104 pages here.

I love Terry's books, and I think the young witch Tiffany Aching, who we follow growing up over several books, is one of his best characters.
So that's why I promote this link, even though I think the publisher is being rather stingy by spacing the book out over months. Five years ago, it would have been extraordinary to give away the first book of a series for free, now it's practically standard. Just give it in one full, free file, folks. (Aliteration not intended, but accepted with thanks.)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Life on the phone

According to a study, 38% of American students can go no longer than ten minutes without checking their phone for messages.
This is not while stuck alone in an airport or waiting room, this is even while being with friends. Remarkable.

Reader Laurie told us:
I recently talked to an 17 year old girl, president of her class, very bright. She was texting someone as she was conversing with me. She was telling me that kids of her generation feel real anxiety about simply looking someone in the face and talking with them, without also being on an iPhone, or texting at the same time. She said it makes kids feel nervous to actually do stuff "in person," rather than through a screen. As she spoke to me she I had to kind of screw up my eyes and really concentrate, she was talking so fast, and she wasn't at all physically present. I actually commented on this to her,  and she said, "yeah, that's what I mean. I can't just talk to you and do nothing else."