Tag Archives: Cool Stuff

Kvick Tänkare

While you may think that reading this blog gives you all the 18th century British grenadier goodness you can stand, you really need your very own grenadier.  Fortunately, the people over at Paper Replika have posted plans that let you create your very own.  Looks really cool.

My latest time sink has been Turntable.fm.  I am absolutely hooked.  My most frequent haunt is a ‘room’ which specializes in rock and heavy metal music.  One of my fellow metalheads recommended the movie Anvil! The Story of Anvil and I heartily pass along that recommendation.  Even if you aren’t a fan of heavy metal music (and Anvil isn’t my particular cup of tea) you should check this out.  It’s all about friends, family and following your dreams.  While it would have been quite easy to make a mocking, real-life Spinal Tap, the movie does a great job of showing the human faces of the band and their families.  Quite possibly the best documentary I’ve seen in a very long time. Really, don’t miss this.

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I’m a bit skeptical of the ‘Oh no! China will bury us!’ meme but there are real consequences at the prospect of tens (hundreds?) of millions of people moving from poverty into the middle class.  Some of those we can guess pretty easily like the increase in demand for consumer goods and energy which will make resources scarce and likely accelerate climate change.  Others you might not readily think of.  Take, for example, the boom in hunting mammoth tusks in Siberia to feed the ever increasing demand for ivory in China.

Nearly 90 percent of all mammoth tusks hauled out of Siberia—estimated at more than 60 tons a year, though the actual figure may be higher—end up in China, where legions of the newly rich are entranced by ivory. The spike in demand has worried some scientists, who lament the loss of valuable data; like the trunk of a tree, a tusk contains clues about diet, climate, and the environment. Even Yakutiyans wonder how quickly this nonrenewable resource will be depleted. Millions of mammoth tusks, perhaps more, are still locked in Siberia’s permafrost, but already they’re becoming harder to find.

Probably not a huge deal in the big picture but you never know what this might lead to.

The Swedes continue to astound the world.  Recent low water levels have revealed the wrecks of two 17th century Danish warships.  Pretty amazing when you consider it’s a capital city and the waterways are heavily developed and used.

So, the economy is changing fast…manufacturing jobs are going overseas, technology is making old jobs obsolete, you know the deal.  So, what happens to people lacking education, opportunity for reeducation or other reasons they can’t keep up?  Well, the U.S. government has (unintentionally) created a program to warehouse all these people in poverty.

It’s called disability insurance.  And in addition to poverty wages of about $1,000 a month you also get health insurance.  Since that’s a better deal than most low wage and/or part time jobs out there it basically incentivizes people to stay on the program until they are eligible for social security.  And since ‘disability’ is a subjective evaluation rather than a medical diagnosis, this is a problem that won’t get better on its own.

There’s a whole lot more you should know about our disability system may not do what it was intended to.  Check out this brilliant explainer from NPR.

The Washington Post apparently has an annual peep contest every year.  Check out one of this year’s finalist…Zero Peep Thirty.

My acting debut

My reenacting group got (what seemed to me 1) an unusual request.  An aspiring film student is hoping to make a fan film surrounding the upcoming Assassin’s Creed video game.  The game centers on revolutionary America and he needed some grenadiers.  Here’s the official game trailer so you’ll see why he needs some redcoats.

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This sounded totally cool to me so I quickly threw my hat into the ring.  Somehow 2 I was selected to play a rebel who gets killed 3.  So, here I am in my uniform…hopefully the Crown will forgive me for dressing as a traitor.

I’d like to draw your attention to the canteen on my left hip.  That’ll be important later on.

So…the scene I had to do was run with the redcoats behind me. Once given the signal I was supposed to collapse to my knees (spoiler alert:  I die) and then, allowing the Brits to shoot me again I fall on my face.

Now, I’ve never acted before but I decided to throw myself into my role full force.  So, with some helpful tips on how to collapse to your knees from a fast jog 4 and then fall on my face, we were off to the races.

I believe it was on the fourth take (yes, each time crashing to my knees and then my face) that it happened.  Remember that blue canteen?  Here’s what it looks like, before being blue.  Well, everything was going fine.  I was running down the trail…got the signal and dropped…waited a second and got the second signal indicated that I should fall.  It was sometime around there that the canteen shifted from my hip to right in front of my sternum.  I then fell down with my full body-weight.  Right. On. That. Fucking. Canteen.

It was very painful.  But, never let it be said that I’m not willing to suffer for my art.  I did another take or two and then a few more hours of other scenes.  The pain grew most exquisite and I was convinced that I had cracked a rib.  Fortunately, after a trip to the ER I was diagnosed with just a really bad bruise or hairline fracture.  Still, it hurt like hell.

Once the trailer is completed (looks like we’ve got at least one more day of shooting that needs to be done) I’ll put it up here.  But, here’s a still from my death scene:

Feel free to compare/contrast with the death scene from Platoon and tell me I don’t deserve an Academy Award. 5

Or maybe I need to do a film about the Holocaust?

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  1. but what do I know, I’m new to this stuff
  2. the details are a bit fuzzy
  3. in addition to a redcoat…there weren’t many of us so some of us got drafted for double duty
  4. Hint: If there’s nothing to cushion your fall it really doesn’t matter what you do, it’s gonna hurt
  5. Or at least a Golden Globe

Whaddya talkin’ bout?

This is, by far, the most interesting thing I read all day.  A linguist argues that American regional dialects are pulling away from each other.  Maybe because I’m an East Coast elitist I just figured that with geographic mobility and the prevalence of accent-free Mid-Altantic English on TV and in the movies you all would finally start speaking normal.

But, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

He talks about an area of 34 million people in a region called ‘Inland North‘ (roughly around the Great Lakes) where:

…it all started in the early 1800′s when the linguistic ancestors of this new dialect began to pronounce “a” in a distinct way: the pronunciation of “man” began to lean towards “mee-an”, at least some of the time. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that this sound change began to trigger a real domino effect.

What kind of effect?

This rearrangement, called the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, is the result of a chain reaction of vowel changes on an epic scale similar to the process that transformed vowels from Middle English to Modern English between 1400 and 1600.

Really fascinating article well worth your time.  I won’t spoil the surprise ending of why they suspect this polarization is occurring.

You can take a test of what some of these words sound like here (and be warned the whole site can be a time sink if you find this stuff interesting).  For the record I only got 1 out of 5 correct.

 

Captain America trailer

I was never really a fan of Captain America in my comic reading heyday but this looks pretty good.  I always new Marvel was better than DC and I think the movie record shows that (with a couple of notable exceptions).

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Relax…take it easy

Sometimes, while toiling away in the soul crushing cube farm known as ‘work’ I find the sensory stimuli (such as it is) far too distracting to actually get anything done.  Florescent lights sucking the life out of everything they touch, people talking at extraordinary volumes, and just a general oppressiveness of too many people stacked in too small a space.  Rats have been known to chew each others tails off in such conditions.

I usually find comfort by plugging my earphones in and playing some music.  Sometimes that works and sometimes not depending on my mood, the music and the work to be done.

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon ‘Ambiance‘ which is described as:

Ambiance is an “environment enhancer” designed to help you create the perfect ambient atmosphere to relax, focus or reminisce. Choose from over 1000 free sounds, exclusive to Ambiance, to download and listen to, create customized sound mixes, cycle through playlists, set custom timers and more!

Dear readers, this is a massive dose of awesome.  The creators of this app (I have it on my PC but if you’re an apple-drone you can get it for your variety of i-gadgets) have scratched an itch I didn’t even know I had.  They created a great, easy to use interface and a great selection of high quality sounds.

So, if you want the illusion that you aren’t spending your time circulating information that’s irrelevant about subjects that don’t matter to people who aren’t interested you can turn on Ambiance and at least feel like you’re doing such work in a forest clearing, near a Serbian motorway in the rain (it’s much better than it sounds) or at the Lviv rail terminal (my current favorite) waiting to hop a train.

The program is free for 14 days and you’ve got about 1,000 really high quality sounds to play around with.  If you like it you can own the think for $9.99 which is quite reasonable.  It’s got a few features I haven’t used yet like a timer and a mixer to mash up multiple sounds and with a bit of tweaking could make an excellent alarm clock / lullaby tool.

My only quibble is that you can’t convert the sounds (or playlists) into a downloadable file to put on your mp3 player and take with you.  Some sort of nonsense about copywrite.

Pixels

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Really, really cool.

Kvick Tänkare

Nice video about the war on drugs (h/t daily dish)

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The reliability/credibility ratings most intelligence personnel use in the U.S. is bunk and information to that effect has been known since 1975.

I want one….now!  And please don’t burst my bubble by telling me how impractical it is.

I have no idea what this game will be but the promo video has a 1984 feel to it and I’m a sucker for distopian entertainment….

Yesterday the Swedes officially ended conscription and are now converting to an all volunteer force.

Machine teaches men what it feels like to menstruate.  And why would I want to know that?  I also don’t know what it feels like to have hemorrhagic fever, is some knucklehead going to make a simulator for that too?

Kvick Tänkare

Michael Roberto thinks about the BP oil spill and talks about the characteristics of catastrophic failure in organizations.

If soccer (uh..football) was actually like this you couldn’t rip me away from the TV screen

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Ah…nothing like a little xenophobia to demonstrate to the world that we’re the bestest, greatest, most perfect nation god ever gave the earth…(h/t Balko)

At one point, a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims.

“Go home,” several shouted from the crowd.

“Get out,” others shouted.

In fact, the two men – Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry — were not Muslims at all. They turned out to be Egyptian Coptic Christians who work for a California-based Christian satellite TV station called “The Way.” Both said they had come to protest the mosque.

“I’m a Christian,” Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face.

(uh…for normal people – well, as much as normal people would be part of an angry mob – this would be a big OOOPS moment with shamed faces to spare.  Not this group of winners, though…twshiloh)

But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.

“I flew nine hours in an airplane to come here,” a frustrated Nassralla said afterward.

(Because it’s not really about religion, is it?  It’s about THEM.  They’re coming to get you Barbara.  What a bunch of douches.  Of course, you could say that since the Egyptians were there to protest the very same thing they were just getting their karmic rewards…)

This past weekend I just about got my ass kicked by a beholder.  If that sentence makes any sense to you at you, you can read the session report here.

Here’s a poster for that IT geek in your life…

Military / Swedish time waster of the day

Hey, it’s Friday.  What not waste a bit of time seeing if you’ve got what it takes upstairs to be a Swedish officer.

Here’s a test (based on the Swedish recruitment tests) in English.  The program kept freezing up at the end for me but it was pretty fun.  I enjoyed the background noise to give you the feeling that you’re in a classroom…And great proctor…

Am I the only person to have missed this?

Too bad it came too late for the War of the Worlds live blogging on Halloween.

Not a bad deal…the guy made this movie for $300 and parleyed it into a $30 million deal.  That’s Uruguayan ingenuity for you…

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Holy crap!  Who knew the Uruguayans could rock?!  I’d actually put this song in my rotation.

(Can you call it a music video when it’s just about the same length as the movie?)

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