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.
Crank up your speakers or strap on your headphones, here's an awesome science film from 1953. In A Communications Primer, the Eames power couple (creators of Powers of Ten, among others) explain how communication works in an increasingly technological world. Now, given that this film is now fifty-six years old, can it be relevant today? In a word: completely. The first topic here is signal versus noise, a problem that we're all familiar with -- think spam, Twitter, Facebook, even just the forlorn... READ ON
I'm a big fan of kaiten-zushi, a form of sushi restaurant in which patrons sit at a bar around a conveyer belt. On the conveyer belt, endless small plates of sushi proceed past the diners -- which tends to put the diners in a sort of zoned-out mode, just staring as infinite food arrives. When a diner sees something he likes, he grabs the plate. At the end of the meal, his plates are counted and a total cost tabulated (plates are typically color-coded by price, ranging from $1 - $3 or more). My local... READ ON
MIT grad student David Merrill and his team created a set of computerized toy blocks, called Siftables, that are aware of each other. Because the blocks are aware of their own orientation and (to some extent) surroundings, they can interact with each other. For example, around 2:30, Merrill shows a demo of addition via blocks -- by moving around blocks labeled "2" and "3" as well as "+" and "=", the blocks can sum themselves, forming a sort of interactive math problem.
Merrill's Siftables demo is only... READ ON
Meme alert: Twitter users have started reversing narratives. It started with BackFlicks, a process in which movie plots were rewritten in reverse -- for example, "Bambi: A deer abandons his family to play in the woods with small animals and live with his mother." (See a zillion more on Twitter.) Well, the new jam is BackGames, in which video game plots are reversed, with hilarious results. Here are a few favorites:
Pauline takes her boyfriend to the top of a building. There, she... READ ON
Having trouble figuring out what the Credit Crisis (ahem, Global Financial Meltdown, Great Depression II, Credit Freeze) really means? Media designer Jonathan Jarvis has created a simple video explaining the situation step by step. There's no alarmism here, just a straightforward explanation of the financial realities leading to our current, uh, predicament.
Discussed: treasury bills, credit, leverage, how banks make their money, mortgages (uh-oh), mortgage brokers, collateralized debt obligations... READ ON
Last week, the awesome photography blog The Big Picture turned its lens on People at Work, showing an incredible series of forty-five large photos of people in their workplaces. The images are stunning, not least because they're presented in a very large format -- unusual for web photography. Here's my favorite:
A Belarussian man works in a felt boot factory in Smilovichi, some 35 km east of Minsk on February 5, 2009. Felt boots for cold winter conditions called "valenky" are common throughout... READ ON
Jandrew Edits is a collection of TV and movie reedits. Scenes are edited and compressed in bizarre ways, creating something bizarre, nonsensical, and wonderful. At the moment, the site mostly features clips from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Here are a few favorites.
Star Trek: TNG Episode 4 - "Uneventful Day"
Star Trek: TNG Episode 12 - "Bridge Buffoonery"
Warning: a few are a bit raunchy...but all are made with original footage from the broadcast shows. Enjoy!
(Via... READ ON
Blogger Andy Baio went on a search for localized (non-English) versions of the song "Oo De Lally," featured in the 1973 Disney movie Robin Hood. He managed to find thirteen different versions, from the original:
All the way to the Arabic version ("Ya hallouli ya hallawa"):
Check out Baio's website for a full thirteen versions, including Portuguese, Russian, French, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Japanese...the list goes... READ ON
Statistician/poll-predictor Nate Silver (previously discussed) analyzed the Oscars before last night's telecast, and attempted to forecast the outcome of the six most popular categories: Supporting Actor (Ledger), Supporting Actress (Henson - wrong!), Lead Actor (Rourke - wrong!), Lead Actress (Winslet), Best Director (Boyle), Best Picture (Slumdog Millionaire). So he got four out of six right. Decent, but not great (the Intrade predictions actually got the Cruz win right, thus doing better than... READ ON
Here's a bit of Friday nerdery for you. In this gloriously retro 70's video, a group of dancers demonstrate how protein synthesis works...via interpretive dance, complete with trippy music and Jabberwocky-inspired narration. Entitled "Protein Synthesis: An Epic on the Cellular Level," I'm not sure if this counts as an educational film...but it's definitely fun and weird. The introductory lecture does help to set the stage for the dance, featuring about three minutes of genuine educational material on... READ ON
Every film John Cazale appeared in was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.