In Japanese, the word shokunin literally translates "craftsman" or "artisan," but its meaning goes deeper. In Japanese culture, the term implies a deep commitment to mastery and excellence. A true shokunin is often on a lifelong mission.
Ryan Neil is an American shokunin, devoted to the art of bonsai. He has worked in the field for nearly 20 years, including six years as an apprentice in Japan. He manipulates trees, ripping and twisting them, to make living art forms.
In this short film, we meet Neil and learn a little about his bonsai practice. Enjoy:
The forests east of Lake Como, Italy, are home to a foreboding ruin. Some call it the Casa Delle Streghe (House of Witches), or the Red House, after the patches of rust-colored paint that still coat parts of the exterior. Its most common nickname, however, is the Ghost Mansion.
Since its construction in the 1850s, the mansion—officially known as the Villa De Vecchi—has reportedly been the site of a string of tragedies, including the murder of the family of the Italian count who built it, as well as the count's suicide. It's also said that everyone's favorite occultist, Aleister Crowley, visited in the 1920s, leading to a succession of satanic rituals and orgies. By the 1960s, the mansion was abandoned, and since then both nature and vandals have helped the house fall into dangerous decay. The only permanent residents are said to be a small army of ghosts, who especially love to play the mansion's piano at night—even though it's long since been smashed to bits.
The intrepid explorers of Atlas Obscura recently visited the mansion and interviewed Giuseppe Negri, whose grandfather and great-grandfather were gardeners there. See what he thinks of the legends, and the reality behind the mansion, in the video below.
Ada Lovelace is widely considered to be the first computer programmer—and every year, the second Tuesday of October is set aside to honor that achievement. She worked with Charles Babbage on his proto-computer designs, and translated an academic paper about Babbage's Analytical Engine from French to English. In the process, she discovered errors in Babbage's design, fixed them, and added a pile of new commentary in a series of notes that were longer than the original paper itself.
Among Lovelace's contributions was "Note G." In it, she wrote an algorithm intended to be implemented by the machine. This algorithm is what many consider to be the first computer program. She wrote:
We will terminate these Notes by following up in detail the steps through which the engine could compute the Numbers of Bernoulli, this being (in the form in which we shall deduce it) a rather complicated example of its powers. ...