Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides and writes for This American Life, The Atlantic, Breakfast on Mars, and The Magazine. You can follow him at chrishiggins.com.
In a recent Wired article, missileer John Noonan recounts his daily life manning an American missile silo. He calls it: In Nuclear Silos, Death Wears a Snuggie. And Noonan really does wear a Snuggie (a blue one), as he waits for orders to launch ICBMs. And waiting is really boring -- like soul-crushingly, tediously, boring. The worst part of the job is that, if all goes well, you will just be alert and ready forever, but never actually perform the task for which you're trained. What a terrifying way... READ ON
The Tumblr White People Rapping Poorly is devoted to cataloging, you guessed it: bad raps by white people. It's off the hook...um...y'all. Their mission statement: "Science has show that for every Eminem, there are approximately 598,467 white people that try to rap but can't. This is devoted to bringing you the best of the worst."
A classic. Sort of.
Denny Blaze writes: "I'm just a middle class guy who's trying to express myself through my rap music. Once you watch my video,... READ ON
Today, a short science video from NPR contributor Robert Krulwich (of RadioLab fame), animated by Benjamin Arthur. Krulwich describes a series of experiments in which blindfolded people are asked to walk (or drive) in a straight line -- and then maps are made showing the routes they walk instead.
It's certainly a curious effect, and I recall hearing something like this in the context of lost-in-the-woods survival as well -- there's that old notion about just staying where you are rather than striking... READ ON
It's hard to believe that IBM is 100 years old (well, nearly -- it turns 100 on June 16, 2011). Yet, watching this newly released 30-minute documentary, the point is driven home: IBMers were indeed there at many crucial points in American technological history. They invented so many devices and systems we take for granted today that it really does take 30 minutes to review them in any depth. For example, there's the SABRE computer reservation system that still powers many travel bookings. And then... READ ON
Tonight, welcome to my world: Portlandia. I've lived in the real-life analogue of Portlandia for eleven years, and it's a place of dreams -- dreams of sleeping late, of opening a yarn store, of becoming a freegan, of getting rid of your car and becoming a bike commuter who only wears natural fibers while working quarter-time at a gluten-free bagel shop. It's a city where young people have come to get away from being in a city. As Fred Armisen (now famously) says in the first episode of Portlandia,... READ ON
So I missed Poe's birthday by one day, but this is worth it: a version of "Humpty Dumpty" written by Dylan Curry in the style of Edgar Allan Poe. The poem:
Once upon a wall of stone
Sat Humpty Dumpy all alone
Shrouded in a web of gloom
His fate as near as tomorrow's tomb
For earth called him
As he teetered and fell
And the ground took him
And mangled his shell
All the angels in heaven
And Demons below
Were soaked in yolk
As they fought for his soul
Now my own days grow shorter
The... READ ON
Amy Sedaris, star of Strangers With Candy and surprisingly successful craft maven, has her own YouTube channel! In her videos, Sedaris teaches us how to make some spectacular crafts -- like the classic "hot dogs on a rake," "pom pons" (sic?), and who could forget the "donut bird feeder?" This is spectacular and ridiculous and wonderful. I've included most of the videos currently posted on her channel (they're all promo for her new crafting book), but I suggest you subscribe for more gems.
Dusty... READ ON
James Ellroy, author of L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia has a new show premiering tonight (Wednesday, January 19) at 10pm Eastern on Investigation Discovery. It's called "James Ellroy's LA: City of Demons." It focuses on true crime in Los Angeles, primarily in the 40's, 50's, and 60's. And it's one of the weirdest things I've seen on cable TV in a long time. Here's the trailer:
The Fascinating Weirdness of James Ellroy
Ellroy is a man obsessed with crime victims. And he has good... READ ON
Today I bring you a remarkable historical document -- complete with animation to make it even more bizarre. In 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson needed some pants. So he called up the folks at Haggar (who had previously made him some excellent pants) and ordered more. What's remarkable about this is not just that this call was recorded (as we now know, this was common practice at the time) -- it's that LBJ was a real straight shooter when it came to ordering pants. You wanna know how the president... READ ON
Google is holding a science fair online! If you're from 13-18 years old, and work either alone or in a team or two or three, you can enter. The prizes include scholarships, visits to major research institutions, Scientific American subscriptions, and LEGO products. The deadline is in April of this year, and I'm sure we'll see some doozies -- but none can compare to my elementary school masterwork of May 1987: "How Soil Affects Growth" shown below. (I did not win. You might argue that my attitude was... READ ON
Atticus Finch's final speech in To Kill a Mockingbird was shot in one take.