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.
Today's awesome geekery: It's a Secret to Everybody, an amazingly extensive article on the origins of various video game character names. Ever wondered where the name Zelda (from The Legend of Zelda) came from? How about Link? How about Mario, Luigi, Bowser (aka Koopa), Toad, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Sonic the Hedgehog, and many, many more? Read this article to find out. Some choice snippets:
The [Legend of Zelda] series hero, Link, deserves a bit of onomastic speculation too. His name isn’t... READ ON
On the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing, many of us are watching historical video and reliving the experience. What was it like to work on a team with a goal that was (forgive the pun) out of this world? The moon landing might have been impossible, or killed the crew, and even if it did work it required everyone working on it to give everything -- for years. The closest I've come to such projects in my daily life is in software development -- with work weeks that expand to fill every hour of... READ ON
This article was originally published in March of... READ ON
Last Sunday, a tragic monorail crash at Walt Disney World (between the Pink and Purple trains) killed the driver of Purple, Austin Wuennenberg. In the aftermath, Disney closed the monorail system for investigation and there has been a surprising amount of web coverage of the incident from monorail experts and drivers. But one forum post caught my attention. Written by a former monorail driver (sorry, "railie"), the post is educated speculation about what might have happened. It's interesting mainly... READ ON
Did you know you can watch full episodes of NOVA, PBS's science show, for free on YouTube? Yeah, it was news to me too. There are about twenty episodes up at the moment, including Lord of the Ants, an hour-long documentary about E.O. Wilson, an ant biologist with a surprisingly controversial career.
I found this program totally engrossing, despite the slightly wooden narration by Harrison Ford. It's great to see Wilson digging around in the dirt, allowing himself to be stung by fire ants...at the... READ ON
If you enjoyed yesterday's post Richard Feynman Explains Trains, here are some more clips from the same interview -- from a 1983 BBC program called Fun to Imagine.
First up, Feynman explains why mirrors only reflect left-to-right, not top-to-bottom. This clip occurs before yesterday's train explanation; it starts with Feynman talking about his fraternity at MIT.
Next, Feynman explains magnets and challenges "'why' questions." Actually, he doesn't really get into the magnet thing so much, but... READ ON
On Monday I pointed to The Fog of War, an Errol Morris documentary about Robert McNamara, former US Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam era. Yesterday, Morris posted a thoughtful blog entry on McNamara called McNamara in Context, and I think it's worth reading for those who are still curious about McNamara -- and in particular, how we should remember him. Here's a tidbit:
He said, "We were wrong." He was reluctant to use the first person. It was always "we," not "I." But he did say it. It might... READ ON
What keeps trains on their tracks? Physicist Richard Feynman explains how trains' wheels are put together, and the ingenious engineering behind them. It's a quick clip -- under three minutes -- and worth a moment if you're curious about trains.
(Via... READ ON
Robert McNamara died today, at the age of 93. McNamara was US Secretary of Defense through most of the 1960's, overseeing the start of the Vietnam War and the Cuban Missile Crisis, among other major Cold War crises. Back in 2003, documentarian Errol Morris made a film called The Fog of War featuring McNamara, and pretty much only McNamara -- literally sitting in a chair, reviewing the history of various wars, combined with archival video and audio.
The Fog of War is truly fascinating. I don't use... READ ON
So my friend Elise McIntosh was on a business trip in Crystal City (near Washington, DC), and decided to take a walk. She wears these crazy shoes called Vibram Five Fingers -- which I refer to as "the gorilla feet." Anyway, she looked down at one point and noticed that on a short walk, she was walking over all kinds of interesting-looking patterns. So she started taking pictures and posting them on Flickr, in a set called Crystal City Beneath Five Fingers. She wrote:
I was talking with Siri [a... READ ON
ABBA had to negotiate the rights to their name with a canned fish company.