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.
For today's weird video enjoyment, I bring you this bizarre promotional video for ABB Robotics and Honeytop Pancakes, in which it is revealed that ABB's robots can sort and stack pancakes at superhuman speed. The repeated shots of the robot's huge "FlexPicker™ Arms" grabbing and stacking pancakes remind me distinctly of The Matrix, in which gigantic spiderlike robots lumbered over fields of humans...occasionally pulling the plug on one, or picking one out of its pod. Of course, these pancake robots... READ ON
Here's something that happened. In the early twentieth century, a popular piece of art for the fashionable French home was L'Inconnue de la Seine (translation: "the unknown woman of the Seine"), a completely creepy death-mask (pictured at left) of a young woman whose body had been pulled from the Seine River in Paris, sometime in the 1870s or 1880s. As the (somewhat questionable) story goes, a pathologist at the morgue found the unknown woman's face enchanting, so he made a death mask, a plaster casting... READ ON
I hereby present the most awesome thing I've seen all year: an autotuned remix of an episode of Carl Sagan's Cosmos. Entitled "A Glorious Dawn," it's the best trailer I've yet seen for the series as a whole -- it's genuinely a catchy song, and it actually communicates Sagan's sense of wonder for the cosmos. Absolutely brilliant. If you watch one internet video today, please let it be this one.
See also: Documentaries I Like: Cosmos, The Late Movies: Cosmos, The World of Auto-Tune, Winston... READ ON
No Signal is a YouTube "supercut" of various movie moments in which the protagonists find themselves without a cell phone signal -- you can bet a murderer/terrorist/alien is right around the corner when that happens! Don't go through that door, cell phone guy! Wondering what the term "supercut" means? Blogger Andy Baio (who popularized the term) described it thusly:
This insane montage of (nearly) every instance of "What?" from the LOST series started me thinking about this genre of video meme,... READ ON
This is adorable and slightly surreal. In the following videos, this kid Jonah, who looks to be about six years old, reviews movies he has enjoyed. I have presented the reviews in the order that I enjoyed them, not the chronological posting order.
The only movie review Jonah has done without using any words, aside from "Uh...The Incredibles."
Jonah Reviews Movies, Episode Six: The Incredibles from Ben Compton on... READ ON
"We see with the eyes, but we see with the brain as well, and seeing with the brain is often called 'imagination,' and we are familiar with the landscapes of our own imagination, our 'inscapes,' we've lived with them all our lives. But there are also hallucinations as well, and hallucinations are completely different...they seem to come from the outside, and to mimic perception." With those words, world-famous neurologist Oliver Sacks begins a fascinating twenty-minute talk on hallucination, which you... READ ON
Now this is a find. The 92nd Street Y Podcast (iTunes link) presents a variety of interesting lectures that have taken place at, you guessed it, the 92nd Street Y in New York. (Note that the Y is not a YMCA -- read more). Anyway, my point is they have this brilliant piece by Kurt Vonnegut. Recorded on May 4, 1970, Vonnegut reads from an early version of his seminal novel Breakfast of Champions (my favorite Vonnegut novel), three years before its publication. He drops a few "f-bombs" and talks briefly... READ ON
The New Yorker brings us an important message from extraterrestrials, translated by writer Paul Simms. I'm just gonna start this dialog by emphasizing that everything's cool. They just want to, you know, check out our planet and hang out. There are some details and stuff to work out, but nobody's gonna get eaten by huge laser-wielding death monsters. The message begins (emphasis added):
We are on our way to your planet. We will be there shortly. But in this, our first contact with you, our... READ ON
Okay, so I've been on an online date or two. (And by that, I mean a date that occurs in the "real world" arising from first contact on an online dating site.) I'm currently dating a very nice lady I met via OkCupid, a quirky dating site that's most notable because it's free (although there is lately a no-ads paid option, but they are surprisingly non-pushy about it). The site is also notable because its person-matching system is dependent on questions submitted by the community of users, and the... READ ON
Looking for a fun documentary on math? (Sorry, "maths" for you Brits.) The BBC's Story of Maths is a history of the growth of mathematics from its earliest origins to its present applications. My favorite parts are the early stuff -- math used by Babylonians and early Greeks, math in early farming, math in early trade, and so on -- you'll see a lot of that in this first episode. It's a four-episode series, each episode broken into six parts...just search YouTube for "story of maths" to find them all... READ ON
Thomas Jefferson wrote parts of the Declaration of Independence in a Philadelphia tavern.