The People of Texel Island are Professional Beachcombers
If you’ve ever tossed a message in a bottle into the ocean from anywhere in Northern Europe, it’s likely it ended up on Texel Island.... READ ON
A Film Tour of London in 1981
One of the few people not wearing a mustache is the Queen.... READ ON
Pretty Pictures
11 Scenes from "Mummies of the World" in Portland
Armchair Field Trip: Iowa's Stonehenge
Have you ever wanted to speed across a bridge that’s half a mile long and 13 stories in the air, pretending you’re in Tron? Yeah, me too. Good news: the next time you’re in Madrid, Iowa, stop by the High Trestle Trail Bridge and you totally... READ ON
Lectures for a New Year: Parrots, the Universe, and Everything
Today I've got a doozy of a lecture for you. I present what is likely Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams's last public appearance -- he died of a heart attack on May 11, 2001, mere days after this talk at UC San Diego was filmed. This is a man in the prime of his life, about to be struck down. And he is cracking wise throughout, telling truly wonderful, engaging stories, but with a shattering message: just as our world is being pulled together by information technology, we are... READ ON
Video: Inside the Chernobyl "Zone of Alienation"
On April 26, 1986 a massive accident occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in what is now the Ukraine. A nuclear reactor exploded, sending radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and killing more than 50 people, with another 800,000 exposed to radiation and increased risk of cancer. Around the Chernobyl plant is a 30-kilometer Zone of Alienation (I'm not making this name up), established to prevent people from entering the most heavily contaminated area (and hurriedly evacuated, as you can see by... READ ON
The Kingdom of Boomeria
The Kingdom of Boomeria is a magical place of just one hectare hidden in the forest in Bonny Doon, California. Students who graduate from San Lorenzo Valley High School go out into the world and tell tales of their adventures in the Kingdom of Boomeria and find that no one believes them. After all, how many people can claim their science education included fighting medieval battles, building a pipe organ, and digging an underground... READ ON
State Plates: All 50 States in Convenient Souvenir Plate Form
You've definitely seen them: commemorative state plates featuring landmarks and slogans from a particular state. I call them "state plates," but the official term among collectors is "souvenir state plates." They're often displayed in kitchens, and the designs range from kitschy to classy to impossibly bizarre -- see below for examples of each. According to CountryHome (in their "What's Hot Now" feature!), state plates have been around since the 1870s: Souvenir state plates date back to the 1870s.... READ ON
The Haunted Plantation
The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana bills itself as "One of America's Most Haunted Homes". It operates as a bed and breakfast, so for as little as $115 a night (plus tax), you can stay there and see for yourself how haunted it really... READ ON
Armchair Field Trip: Lollapalooza
Last year was my first Lollapalooza ever. It's been around since 1991, but let's just say there's no way my parents would have let me go back then. At the time, it was created by Perry Farrell as a farewell tour for Jane's Addiction. So much for farewell - it ran for the next six years. Then it took a little hiatus, but came back in 2003. The results were not that great, and in 2004, ticket sales were so dismal that the shows had to be canceled altogether. In 2005, though, Farrell tried again, this... READ ON
Armchair Field Trip: Stearns Wharf
I just got back from a week in Ojai, CA, a destination worthy of its own post. But we're going to focus on a stop my wife and I (and our nearly-two-year-old son) made at Stearns Wharf, in Santa Barbara, CA. If you haven't been, this is the oldest working pier in California. Built in 1872 by a lumber tycoon named John P. Stearns, the pier held the distinction of being the longest deep-water pier between L.A. and San Fran during the late 1800s, a pretty important fact given the dearth of... READ ON
8 Virtual Tours You Can Take at Your Desk
Lots of folks are cutting back on vacations this summer, and some are staying home completely to save money. With the help of the internet, you can take a virtual tour of many tourist destinations, and also places you can only visit online. Some of these tours are interactive flash sites; others are not. 1. The Caves of... READ ON
Whose Father Was He?
Errol Morris, documentarian and now blogger for the New York Times, brings us a fascinating investigation into the history of a single photograph (technically an ambrotype). Morris's article Whose Father Was He? explores the mystery of a photograph of three children, found on the body of a Union soldier who fell at Gettysburg in 1863. Here's the... READ ON
Robin Hood's "Oo De Lally," Translated Into 13 Languages
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
Amish Hackers
Today's surprising article: Kevin Kelly on Amish hackers. In a thoughtful article, Kelly explores Amish culture (from an outsider's perspective, anyway) focusing on their use of technology. Kelly's thesis is that the Amish aren't anti-technology per se -- they're just slower to adopt technology, and have a highly developed sense of which technologies they adopt. In Kelly's visits to Amish territory, he witnessed a people who had carefully selected their technologies, balancing family and community... READ ON
A Night at the Guggenheim
Software guy Anil Dash and his wife Alaina had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: they spent a night inside the Guggenheim. In an exhibition called Revolving Hotel Room, visitors can inhabit a space that transcends public and private boundaries -- at a price of about $300/night, all available nights quickly sold out, but the Dashes got one. Dash writes about the amenities: The truth is, the Guggenheim as a space makes a terrible hotel. The room was hardly secluded, the amenities were perfunctory,... READ ON

In 2010, a sex pheromone found in male mouse urine was named "darcin" for Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy.

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