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.
Remember the computer in Minority Report, the one which Tom Cruise manipulated by tossing objects around on a virtual screen? Well, apparently that computer is real. John Underkoffler was involved in designing that computer system and the gestural language used to communicate with it, and has been working on related research for quite a while. In a recent TED Talk, he showed demos of actual, current, working computer systems that do the Minority Report stuff -- and he does it onstage in front of an... READ ON
Here's a bit of nerdy awesomeness for your Friday afternoon: David Byrne (of Talking Heads) gives a TED Talk about how different rooms (performance venues) affect music. He talks about how Talking Heads started out at CBGB and how that club's acoustics affected the band's music -- discrete rhythms could be heard, lyrics were understandable, and the room had very little reverb. Those factors influenced the music, as opera and concert halls influence those kinds of music. As Byrne has taken his music... READ ON
The New York Times has an online feature that allows users to get dictionary definitions of words within feature articles. Just double-click a word, a question mark appears, click that, and you get a definition. Now they've crunched the numbers and revealed the 50 most-looked-up words of 2010 so far. You can see the top 20 above, but there's a catch -- one of those words was coined by a mischievous writer at the Times. Can you figure out which one it is?
From the article analyzing the results:... READ ON
Why sit through a whole boring movie if you can get the best parts together in one easy YouTube video? A real time-saver. Enjoy these "best of" compilations from Movieparts.biz. (Note: the term "best" is highly, highly subjective.)
Warning: some NSFW language in these movie parts! I've made notes by each movie part that might be objectionable. If you want the "best" parts (in my opinion), check out Part 4.
* "Kentucky Fried Movie" (1977)
* "CQ" (2001)
*... READ ON
I'm pleased to announce the triumphant return* of the most useful site of the century, Celebrities Eating Dot Com. Yes, that's right, this is the best destination for photos of celebrities eating food anywhere on the internet, period. Want to see Obama eating a hot dog, or John McCain eating a hot dog, or, let's go for it, George Clooney totally destroying a hot dog? NOW YOU CAN. Before, you might have to resort to Google Images to get embarrassing nom-nom-nom celeb shots, but thanks to this crack team... READ ON
John Boswell has done it again -- he's created another Symphony of Science music video, this time called "The Case for Mars." The video lays out the reasons why scientists think we should go to Mars, but it's made poetic by Boswell's auto-tuned symphonic electronica. Enjoy.
Featuring: Robert Zubrin, Carl Sagan, Brian Cox (looking dashing as always), and Penelope Boston.
Lyrics after the... READ ON
Architecture student Vincent Ocasla decided that Sim City could be a platform for intense experimentation in regimentation, control, and efficiency. This is in contrast to what most of us do in the game -- make a city of our dreams, or at least struggle to. Instead, Ocasla made a city of nightmarish efficiency, taking four calendar years to complete. (He actually made several cities in sequence, refining his urban planning process, until he arrived at Magnasanti, the "ultimate city.") Viceland Games... READ ON
It's shameless self-promotion time! I've been working on a story for my favorite radio show, This American Life, for the past few months. That story airs on tonight's TAL episode ("Held Hostage," Friday, June 4) on WBEZ in Chicago, and then on public radio stations around the country -- check your local listings. A free MP3 and podcast will also be available starting Sunday, for those outside the US or without a radio. I'm very pleased to be on the show, and working with the TAL team has been just what... READ ON
What has three bonus stages and a terrible promo video? Street Fighter II Turbo for SNES, dudes!! Apparently in the early 90's, Capcom sent out a viral videotape to players. They encourage viewers to share the VHS videotape with friends. Now, that tape has finally gone viral. It's pretty awful. Here are some quotes:
Host: "A lot of players think this is the greatest fighting game of all time!" (No citation provided.)
Host: "Did you see that new move!?" Vaguely interested onlooker: "Aww,... READ ON
I'm a Stanley Kubrick fan, but the only film of his that I saw in the theater was Eyes Wide Shut. Which led me to wonder -- what were the trailers for his movies like? Short answer: friggin' nuts. Enjoy. (I'll start with my two favorites, then go in reverse chronological order.)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Do not watch if you're prone to seizures.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Perhaps a precursor to the A Clockwork Orange trailer, with its... READ ON
In 1726, Mary Toft convinced British doctors that she was giving birth to rabbits.