February 28, 2011

Beauty should be edible, or not at all

Trent Reznor wins Oscar.

He won the Golden Globe, and now Trent Reznor — along with co-writer Atticus Ross — have an Oscar for their mood-setting Social Network score.
Posted by the Flea at 10:18 AM

The Book Surgeon

"Using knives, tweezers and surgical tools, Brian Dettmer carves one page at a time."

Posted by the Flea at 10:17 AM

David Bowie on tour 1973

Posted by the Flea at 10:14 AM

The Black Keys: Next Girl

Posted by the Flea at 10:12 AM

February 27, 2011

The truth is nowt there

Former Canadian Defense Minister Paul Hellyer says UFOs are real and "the U.S. military has weapons to use against UFOs and that aliens can help us learn about climate change."

Hellyer says, "the reality is that they (aliens) have been visiting earth for decades and probably millennia and have contributed considerably to our knowledge."

Lest ye be tempted to think this is kind of bitchin', Hellyer goes on.

He says UFOs are not the biggest secret in the world, the biggest secret he says is how a "handful of bankers" have "bamboozled" politicians for the past century to take control of the world's currencies by creating a monopoly on printing money. He adds the bankers are "very clever" in financing politicians and now control the political processes.

Global warming, UFOs and an international banking conspiracy all suggest a common theme in the man's temperament.

Posted by the Flea at 08:03 AM

Folks, the space shuttle is going off the right side of the aircraft right now

"Those of you on the right side of the aircraft, you can see the space shuttle.

"People on the left side of the aircraft, you can probably see people on the right side of the aircraft looking at the space shuttle."

Posted by the Flea at 12:15 AM

Geordie: Oh Lord

Posted by the Flea at 12:04 AM

February 25, 2011



The Top 10 reasons we should revive the Dark Ages (via Binks).

For example, Money was Money.

Oh – and for a point of reference, the average wage in the mid 1400s was about 6 pennies a day – that equates to 130 modern pounds a day – compared to the current average in the UK of around 96 pounds per day.

See also, the Top 10 myths about the Middle Ages.

Posted by the Flea at 08:28 AM

Why video games lean conservative

The Gormogons suggests many video and computer games have a built in conservative worldview "because conservative behavior is consistent, predictable, and reward-based; as a result, it is easy for software to model in a realistic way."

While I can think of inconsistencies in the thinking and behaviour of people describing themselves as conservative, The Fourth Checkraise, whence this link, makes an interesting observation in response. Call it a sociological difference between the people who make films and the people who make video games.

"Why Video Games Lean Conservative" (well, because (1) unlike movie industry populated by humanities and English majors, video game industry is populated by engineers and (2) unlike movies where you can write and act whatever Mary-Sue-wins-the-day nonsense you want, a game must be based on actual achievement and competition to be interesting)
Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM

Rhydian Roberts: O Fortuna

Have you heard the good news about Hermes?

Posted by the Flea at 08:24 AM

Uriah Heep: The Wizard

Posted by the Flea at 08:22 AM

February 24, 2011

Castellum Umbrarum


Giovanni Fontana's 15th-century "castle of shadows". Some design specifications at the link.

In a book published nearly 600 years ago, in the year 1420, Venetian engineer Giovanni Fontana proposed a mechanical construction called the Castellum Umbrarum, or "castle of shadows."
Posted by the Flea at 07:28 AM

The magic goes away

Leo Grin contrasts the heroic fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard with today's anti-heroism and its "postmodern blasphemies against our mythic heritage".

Take Joe Abercrombie, for example.

Think of a Lord of the Rings where, after stringing you along for thousands of pages, all of the hobbits end up dying of cancer contracted by their proximity to the Ring, Aragorn is revealed to be a buffoonish puppet-king of no honor and false might, and Gandalf no sooner celebrates the defeat of Sauron than he executes a long-held plot to become the new Dark Lord of Middle-earth, and you have some idea of what to expect should you descend into Abercrombie’s jaded literary sewer.

He is just getting warmed up.

Via Theo writing at Black Gate, who considers Grin's argument - and societal decline - in detail.

The morally confused anti-hero who alternates between conventionally good and conventionally evil behavior may be interesting and well-written, but when every character exhibits the same moral relativism and behaves in the same morally nebulous manner, it readily becomes apparent that the writer is constitutionally incapable of observing actual human behavior much less creating psychologically credible characters that are not stand-ins for his own confused moral sensibilities. It is precisely this intellectual shallowness that pervades the greater part of modern fantasy fiction.

Matthew David Surridge offers a thorough riposte and an excellent link round up of the bun fight over the decline and fall of high fantasy, including Joe Abercrombie's reply to Leo Grin.

When it comes to an epic tale with moral clarity set in a supremely realised fantasy world, [Tolkien] pretty much knocked it out of the park. But that means there’s not much point in my writing it again, is there? Forgive me for saying so, but it feels as if folk have been writing Lord of the Rings again for a while now, and I think we could probably, you know, stop.
Posted by the Flea at 07:27 AM

Wojciech Kilar: Exodus

Posted by the Flea at 07:22 AM

February 23, 2011

Right up my Straße


The Imperia GP would make a fine runabout for my steam powered enabled traction suburb (hat tip to Luxist).

The success of resurrected cars like the New Beetle, the Mini, or more recently, the commercial triumph of the new-look Fiat 500, bear witness to this: Neo-Retro Design is definitely in fashion. In addition to the aesthetic pleasure afforded by the lines, which stand out from the current standards commonplace in today’s vehicles, you can also detect nostalgia for a time when the car was still a magical object, the vector of a rediscovered freedom.

Vraiment retro.

Présentation de l'Impéria GP - kewego
Présentation de l'Impéria GP - kewego

Truth be told: What I really want is a Mini Rocketman.

Posted by the Flea at 06:58 AM

Future Protected Vehicle (FPV)

BAE Systems' Raider unmanned skirmisher was inspired by the Tumbler, the latest iteration of the Batmobile.

Stuart Nathan interviews Hisham Awad, Future Protected Vehicles project leader for BAE Systems.

What, the Batmobile in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight?

‘Yes, that one. You see, it turns like a motorbike and it has the same wheel configuration.’

Yes, yes, but you’re basing a future fighting vehicle on something you saw in a film?

‘Well, why not?’ Awad replied. ‘In all seriousness, we decided that we didn’t have a monopoly on inspiration, and if we saw something in a film that we thought might be a good idea, why not take a look at it and see if there’s something practical we can develop?’
Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM

Virtually undetectable

German naval shipyard Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft present the U212A, their new U-boat, describing it as "the peak of German submarine technology."

It is almost totally silent, radiates virtually no heat and is constructed entirely from non-magnetic metals.
Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

Alya & 6 Pack Čukur: A veš

I have no idea what she is talking about.

Posted by the Flea at 06:52 AM

February 22, 2011

Nag A Ram


Edith Sherwood decodes the Voynich Manuscript. It's an old Hermetic trick and blindingly obvious once it is point out.

When I examined the VM script, I noticed that there were very few corrections, and the writing, though slow, had the appearance of easy fluidity. A complicated code would require making a preliminary copy using for example a slate for a scratch pad. Paper was expensive in the 15th century. To produce a 200 page manuscript under these conditions would be a very tedious task. The encoding must have been simple, easy and direct. Gordon Rugg has suggested that the VM is nothing but a meaningless jumble of letters! I wondered whether he was not correct, with one modification, only the individual words were jumbled, i.e. anagrams.
Posted by the Flea at 06:28 AM

Femen hanging in there

Femen protest against Italy for some reason.

Possibly related: Russia sells bricks.

Posted by the Flea at 06:27 AM

Danielle Dax: Brimstone In A Barren Land

Posted by the Flea at 06:22 AM

February 21, 2011

The deadly invention


Damnation Hildebrandt!, an exquisite steampunk case mod. I also want this Victorian All-in-One PC.

Related: Steampunk is a Czech invention.

Here is the film Vynález zkázy, the DIABOLICAL INVENTION, which, if it is not the steam-powered Holy Grail of Steampunkishness, it surely ought to be. Czechoslovakian animator Karel Zeman is not a legend in the United States only because the United States is largely unaware of his work, thanks to the Iron Curtain. One more black mark against Communism.

Zeman made THE DIABOLICAL INVENTION in 1958, long before Michael Moorcock (the other candidate for the father of steampunk) wrote WARLORD OF THE AIR in 1971.

Vynález zkázy - "The Deadly Invention" (1958).

Posted by the Flea at 07:28 AM

The Last Ringbearer

Middle-earth according to Mordor (hat tip to Mr. Ayers).

In Yeskov's retelling, the wizard Gandalf is a war-monger intent on crushing the scientific and technological initiative of Mordor and its southern allies because science "destroys the harmony of the world and dries up the souls of men!" He's in cahoots with the elves, who aim to become "masters of the world," and turn Middle-earth into a "bad copy" of their magical homeland across the sea. Barad-dur, also known as the Dark Tower and Sauron's citadel, is, by contrast, described as "that amazing city of alchemists and poets, mechanics and astronomers, philosophers and physicians, the heart of the only civilization in Middle-earth to bet on rational knowledge and bravely pitch its barely adolescent technology against ancient magic."

Which sounds like fun but puts me in a jam with my tablet timing. No way am I reading 250 odd pages of .pdf at my desktop.

Posted by the Flea at 07:27 AM

My ancestors

"They were already branded cannibals. Now it appears that early Britons also enjoyed drinking out of cups made from their victims’ heads."

The world’s oldest-known skull cups – containers meticulously fashioned from human skulls – were abandoned in a cave in Somerset’s Cheddar Gorge some 14,700 years ago, it was revealed last night

World beating technology!

Posted by the Flea at 07:24 AM

Charlie Le Mindu Spring/Summer 2011

The next John Galliano arrives. Saucy!

(In fact, some of this is not safe for work unless you are in Ontario and therefore celebrating Family Day.)

Posted by the Flea at 07:23 AM

Sundayman: Now That I Found You

Posted by the Flea at 07:22 AM

February 20, 2011

Betsey Johnson Fall/Winter 2011/2012


The American Vivienne Westwood.

Betsey Johnson's Fall 2011 Collection, which was presented at this evening at Lincoln Center during NY Fashion Week Fall 2011 was a spectacular production---and definitely is the highlight of the entire week. The "He Loves Me...He Loves Me Not" show was more fun to watch than most of the theatrical productions currently headlining on Broadway--and was a wonderful way to spend Valentine's Day eve.
Posted by the Flea at 06:59 AM

Fantastic Planet (1973)

The story is based on the novel Oms en série, by the French writer Stefan Wul.

Adapted from Stefan Wuls novel(La Planete Sauvage), this psychedelic sci-fi animated movie depicts a social catastrophe on the far distant alien planet Yagam, run by the Draags, highly intellectual, spiritual, blue-skinned, red-eyed giants. Their household pets are tiny, pink-skinned bipeds called Oms who were brought from the planet Terra. Fed up with the maltreatment from their owners, the oppressed Oms decide to start a rebellion to achieve equality and a better life. But the Draags are determined to exterminate the entire species once and for all. Fantastic Planet was the winner of a 1973 Cannes Film Festival grand prize.

Oms should have most likely been translated to something cognate with the English for hommes.

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM

Peter Gabriel: Sky Blue

Hat tip to SondraK.

Posted by the Flea at 06:52 AM

February 19, 2011

More wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean


An unidentified whaler or ship's lifeboat was found abandoned on Bouvet Island on April 2, 1964.

The boat bore no identifying marks. There were signs that survivors might have made it to shore, but no trace of them has ever been found.

Related: A list of sub-Antarctic islands. Also, a list of fictional islands.

More pertinent: R'lyeh is located at 47°9′S 126°43′W. Skull Island, by contrast, is located at approximately 12°S 78°E.

Neither of which is anyhere near Bouvet Island so nothing to see here, move along.

Posted by the Flea at 08:04 AM

The power of the bow tie

As London Fashion Week begins, Bompas & Parr try to hypnotise customers into spending more money.

Posted by the Flea at 08:03 AM

Der Mensch als Industriepalast

An animated version of Fritz Kahn's Man as Industrial Palace.

Kahn’s modernist visualization of the digestive and respiratory system as "industrial palace," really a chemical plant, was conceived in a period when the German chemical industry was the world’s most advanced.
Posted by the Flea at 08:02 AM

Sandra Bernhard: Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Posted by the Flea at 08:01 AM

February 18, 2011

Aerial Anti Zeppelin Ranken Exploding Dart


The definitive steampunk weaponry.

It was the logical way to take out targets that were essentially massive balloons filled with flammable gas. When British First World War pilots were asked to destroy German Zeppelins, they did not turn to guns - but a giant exploding dart.

Now one of the foot-long steel-tipped darts is being sold at auction, without the explosives, and is expected to fetch £1,200.

A few hours in the orgone generator and this will fend off anything in the aether. It's a snip at the price.

Posted by the Flea at 09:08 AM

Michel Gondry plans to adapt Ubik

"So try Ubik, and be loved. Warning: use only as directed. And with caution."

Chip works for Glen Runciter's anti-psi security agency, which hires out its talents to block telepathic snooping and paranormal dirty tricks. When its special team tackles a big job on the Moon, something goes terribly wrong. Runciter is killed, it seems--but messages from him now appear on toilet walls, traffic tickets, or product labels. Meanwhile, fragments of reality are timeslipping into past versions: Joe Chip's beloved stereo system reverts to a hand-cranked 78 player with bamboo needles. Why does Runciter's face appear on U.S. coins? Why the repeated ads for a hard-to-find universal panacea called Ubik ("safe when taken as directed")?
Posted by the Flea at 09:07 AM

Mansions of Madness

Eldritch enthusiasm coming at you.

Posted by the Flea at 09:04 AM

LinFante/Sydrojé: Una pianta carnivora mi ha detto che non mi ami più

Posted by the Flea at 09:03 AM

February 17, 2011

Prometheus Rising


Charlize Theron may star in Prometheus, which may or may not be a sort of Alien prequel (hat tip to Mr. Percifield).

Hard news comin' at ya'.

Prometheus is not a film about the ancient Greek folk hero. Rather, it is a science-fiction film in the vein of the Alien trilogy. Scott originally wanted to make the film a prequel to the 1979 Alien film, but eventually turned it into another project.

The film will star Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender.

Variety reports the release date for June 8, 2012.

Posted by the Flea at 06:48 AM

A famous tourist place

"It still remains unknown who discovered the Kungur Ice Cave."

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM

Groovy yurts

For all your yurt needs.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

Poets of the Fall: Carnival of Rust

Posted by the Flea at 06:42 AM

February 16, 2011



Felicia Day is to star in Dragon Age: Redemption, a six episode web series set in Ferelden, the world of Dragon Age: Origins and the eagerly anticipated (by me) Dragon Age II.

A peek at the Dragon Age II narrative shows Day wrote an original story line around a character for herself, Tallis, an Elven assassin.

"Tallis is headstrong, she fights dirty, and she has a really sarcastic sense of humor," she says. "I wanted to bring a modern sensibility to a fantasy character in a fantasy world."

Dragon Age II is released March 8.

Posted by the Flea at 07:48 AM

The Making Of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Featuring ten things you didn't know about The Empire Strikes Back.

For example, Yoda has a first name.

In later drafts, he thought of Yoda as a kind of small frog, and Yoda had a full name: Minch Yoda. In the earliest script draft, Minch has the immortal line: "Skywalker. Skywalker. And why do you come to walk my sky, with the sword of a Jedi knight? ... I remember another Skywalker."

(hat tip to Taylor Empire Airways)

Posted by the Flea at 07:47 AM

Is your band Industrial?

Cracked: "Noone, anywhere, has a cohesive all-encompassing explanation of the traits that define Industrial Music. So we're just gonna make shit up."

Also: Trent Reznor explained.

Posted by the Flea at 07:44 AM

Gododdin: Gwyr a aeth Gatraeth

Posted by the Flea at 07:43 AM

February 15, 2011



Ministry of Tofu reports FHM China has ruffled feathers with its acknowledgement of Chunyun, the Spring Festival Fush of Chinese people heading home to celebrate the lunar new year with their families.

Given the size of Chinese population and the degree to which China’s economic gravitational pull of coastal metropolitan regions has reshaped the population distribution, the scale of the human migration during Chinese New Year is unparalleled in the world. Airfares are prohibitively high to Chinese migrant workers who go from rural to urban areas for job opportunities and to the ordinary working class, therefore, the railway and bus are the major means of transportation. According to the official statistics, the number of passenger journeys during Chunyun, or the Spring Festival Rush, will exceed 2.85 billion.

FHM's read on the event is considered a bit racey, apparently. Liu Jianan has the full spread. There is at least one image I would consider gratuitous as it inexplicably steers the pictorial away from mooncake and into Murder on the Orient (?) Express. Not reading Mandarin or whathaveyou I am unable to make out its intended meaning.

Posted by the Flea at 06:10 AM

Sir Christopher Lee accepts the BAFTA Academy Fellowship

"One of the greatest ever actors, Sir Christopher Lee, is given the highest honour awarded by BAFTA - The Academy Fellowship."

Posted by the Flea at 06:04 AM

David Bowie & The Arcade Fire: Wake Up

Hat tip to the divine SondraK.

Posted by the Flea at 06:02 AM

February 14, 2011

Arguments with furniture are rarely productive


Core77 Design introduces Mati Karmin, an Estonian sculptor who makes furniture out of Russian anti-submarine mines. This right here is what we call dieselpunk (hat tip to Mr. Ash).

You'd think using a core component with such a simple shape would only lend itself to a narrow variety of objects, but Karmin's developed fireplaces, armchairs, beds, bathtubs, desks, wardrobes, bar cabinets, toilets, chandeliers, baby carriages and more.

I particularly like the mine stove. Lots more at both links.

Meanwhile: In steampunk news, the International Steampunk City is yours (hat tip to Captn. Heinrich).

Friends, our offering can be described in a single sentence: We are a Steampunk celebration which spans an entire town.

When: May 6-8th, 2011
Where: The whole town of Waltham, Massachusetts
Posted by the Flea at 06:28 AM

Valentine’s Day

Acknowledged by Ukraine's Femen movement (nsfw unless you are organizing a feminist street protest).

Posted by the Flea at 06:27 AM

Learn a new language and get a new soul

This reference to ten fictional languages includes links to how to learn Aklo, a Nadsat lexicon and a handy Parseltongue translator.

Related: Reconstructing a fictional language.

A few days ago I mentioned that I am being hired (probably) to do the vampire language for "Blade II", the sequel to the Wesley Snipes movie from a couple years back. The vampire language for the original movie was designed by Vicki Fromkin, a professor emerita in my department who died last year. Unfortunately, her notes on the language were lost, so I'm having to start basically from scratch, with my only guide being the nippets of vampire dialogue from the original movie.
Posted by the Flea at 06:24 AM

Trio: Da Da Da

Posted by the Flea at 06:22 AM

February 12, 2011

Verily do we know little of the other universes beyond the gate which Yog-Sothoth guards


Its contents a mystery since its discovering by rare book dealer Wilfrid Voynich in 1912, carbon dating has determined the Voynich manuscript was created in the early 15th century, some one hundred years earlier than established estimates.

Carbon-14 dating places the book's creation to between 1404 and 1438, in the early Renaissance. It's not the oldest book in the world -- that would be The Diamond Sutra, a seven-page scroll printed with wood blocks on paper in China around 1,300 years ago. But it's older than the Gutenberg bible, the first book printed with modern presses, which rolled off the line in 1453.
Posted by the Flea at 07:28 AM

The cast of The Hobbit

This picture represents one Hobbit and thirteen Dwarves.

Posted by the Flea at 07:27 AM

The correct answer is No. 3

IGN offers a quite reasonable list of the Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time.

Posted by the Flea at 07:24 AM

Piracy and the internet

"Neil Gaiman talks to the Open Rights Group about how the internet affects the books and publishing industry."

Posted by the Flea at 07:23 AM

Bulldog Breed: Austin Osman Spare

Posted by the Flea at 07:22 AM

February 11, 2011

Lunar Mandala


Art Donovan designed and built the Lunar Mandala as "an adaptation of the antique convex mirrors from the American Colonial era."

Related: The Architectural Digest Home Show meets the Art of Steampunk.

Steampunk merges with modern style at The Architectural Design Magazine Home Show coming March 17-20 , 2011 in New York City. Art Donovan of Donovan Design will launch his first NYC show with a collection of "Steampunk Modern" illuminated designs and will also be signing his newest book, "The Art of Steampunk." Steampunk combines modern technology with a style sensibility taken from the Victorian era.

Also wonderful: Chris Howard's steampunk map of New York commissioned for a steampunk cafe opening in Brooklyn later this year.

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM


Pink Floyd's Echoes synchronized with the final part of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Hat tip to Mr. Jané.

Posted by the Flea at 06:42 AM

February 10, 2011

Tree people

Compare and contrast two forms of ethnography, one science fantasy and the other science fiction. It is anyone's guess which is which.

Not Endor: The Korowai, also called the Kolufo, are a people of southeastern Papua. Photos by George Steinmetz.


Endor: Opinions are mixed as to whether the Ewoks regarded their own species as food animals. The Korowai, not so much.

In 2006, the television show 60 Minutes claimed that when someone in Korowai society is convicted of being a khakhua (secret witch doctor he or she is tried, and if convicted he or she is tortured, executed, and eaten.

Nobody appreciates the word "cannibal" around these parts but when you find yourself being eyed up alongside the sweet potato it is time to politely but firmly excuse yourself from the table.

By extension: Why were the Ewoks armed with those traps and weapons like the catapult?

I would have thought the answer was obvious: Ewoks use their war machines on other Ewoks. You don't just develop a tradition of religious cannibalism overnight. The political landscape of Endor was no doubt an endless series of brutal tribal wars over status and resources.

The fact that the Empire stumbled on the Ewoks at the dawn of their civilization is an accident of history. Ewoks were obviously vastly more competent and intelligent than any other species in the Star Wars universe. They had no ability to smelt metals, yet they still developed complex war machinery and glider flight.

Supposedly the Empire had subjugated and enslaved the arboreal Wookie race. Yet they were not able to do the same to the Ewoks. Why? Because Ewoks were simply smarter. When the Empire were finally forced to go up against them, it was a massacre. Lasers and armored vehicles were unable to cope with the Ewoks' deadly tactical genius.

On their own planet, Ewoks were kept in check by their constant intertribal struggles. Yet these same battles honed them to a vicious edge unparalleled in Galactic history. If even one Ewok were ever to escape from Endor, it would be all over for the rest of civilization. Ewoks with spaceflight capacity would lead inevitably to a tyranny that would make the Empire pale by comparison.

Best nuke them from orbit. You know why.


Here's a thought: "I was wondering if the Ewoks ate the stormtroopers in Return of the Jedi."

Plenty for everybody!

By contrast: The Endor Holocaust.

What happens when you detonate a spherical metal honeycomb over five hundred miles wide just above the atmosphere of a habitable world? Regardless of specifics, the world won't remain habitable for long.

Technical report at the link.

Posted by the Flea at 07:28 AM

Craig Ferguson - Moon Landing Anniversary Intro

In which Sir Paris Hilton demonstrates a firmer grasp of reality than Margaret Atwood.

Posted by the Flea at 07:24 AM

Delia Debyshire & Barry Bermange: Falling

Posted by the Flea at 07:23 AM

February 09, 2011

You can't push the rivers


"To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven."
- Chuang Tzu, Book XXIII, paragraph 7 (sort of)

Bill Moyers interviews Ursula K. Le Guin on her novel and the film adapation of The Lathe of Heaven.

Posted by the Flea at 08:28 AM

Zod Kitchens

Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM

Béla Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta (3rd Movement)

The Third Part of Bartok's masterpiece, an eerie slow movement, is a classic bartokian "night music" piece. Here the RIAS symphony Orchestra under Ferenc Fricsay, who was Bartok's student, deliver an incredible, stunning performance. For me this is the best version ever of this work and it is a shame that Deutche Grammophone could not record it in stereo.
Posted by the Flea at 08:21 AM

February 08, 2011

Space Settlements: A Design Study (1975)


NASA SP-413 - Space Settlements: A Design Study: "This report grew out of a 10-week program in engineering systems design held at Stanford University and the Ames Research Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration during the summer of 1975. The project brought together nineteen professors of engineering, physical science, social science, and architecture, and two co-directors. This group worked for ten weeks to construct a convincing picture of how people might permanently sustain life in space on a large scale. The goal of the summer study was to design a system for the colonization of space."

The focus of the system is a space habitat where 10,000 people work, raise families, and live out normal human lives.

The question, "What is feasible?" can be finally answered only by future historians. If in the 14th and l5th Centuries when new technology first made transoceanic voyages possible, European rulers had inquired what they should do with this new capability, no man could have been long-headed enough to perceive all the possibilities, nor persuasive enough to communicate his vision to others.

Table of contents. Link to illustrated .pdf file.

Directly related: Clarke's Law.

...new ideas like this pass through three stages:

Stage 1: "It can't be done."
Stage 2: "It probably can be done, but it's not worth doing."
Stage 3: "I knew it was a good idea all along!"
Posted by the Flea at 06:24 AM

Josef Suk: Asrael Symphony (Op. 27)

Josef Suk's "coming to terms" piece concerning the deaths of his father in law Antonin Dvorak and a year later that of his wife Otilka here in a live performance by the National Orchestra of Belgium under chief conductor Walter Weller. I'll let Musicweb's Paul Serotsky describe the piece in more detail now:

Part I: 1. Andante sostenuto concerns the struggle between Life and Death. Asrael, a threatening shadow, observes the rich vitality of Life. Unfurling his leathery wings, he swoops in search of prey. His cold hand touches his chosen victim, and Life fights back...

Part I: 1. Andante sostenuto (continued fom the first segment). Realising (once more) that the conclusion is foregone, Life commits all its energies to a desperate struggle. But the strength that Life expends is the soul that Asrael gains, relentlessly sucked out of this world into the next.
Posted by the Flea at 06:21 AM

February 07, 2011

Motorola - Tablet evolution

(via Quotulatiousness)

The Motorola Xoom tablet powered by Google’s tablet-specific Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) topped the polls and was named the best gadget at CES 2011. Well done, Motorola.

That said, I am frankly baffled by the selection of tablets on the market. No matter what I search, my Amazon ad links default to "Motorola tablet". This suggests something about what Amazon wants us to look at but what relation this has to what works is anyone's guess.

Given the dominance of the iPad and the fact I work in the design industry I had thought to finally give in and go with Apple. But given Apple's tendency to ringfence their products to the point of diminishing their interoperability with my existing work flow, it is still a tough sell. Unlike my Mac enthusiast friends, I am after a working tablet not a marker of my identity/paper weight. Unfortunately, my brand loyalty to HP would seem particularly ill advised given their early forays into the tablet market and, more troubling yet, Google's Android platform appears to be having teething issues across the board.

My hypothetical tablet should be able to open .pdf files and talk to my desktop via USB and/or WiFi. It would not hurt if the thing go negotiate the internet reasonably painlessly. Ideally, my hypothetical tablet will also have the power to run a few RAM intensive VST plug ins for a DAW setup I could take with me on the road.

But the main thing I am after is a gadget that can open CBR files and a big enough screen that I can lay back on the couch and read comic books.

(I would say suggestions and insights are welcome but my comment system is still down for the count. Apologies.)

Posted by the Flea at 05:48 AM

The Math of Beauty

"This is what Édith Piaf used to say: 'Use your faults, use your defects; then you're going to be a star'."

Posted by the Flea at 05:47 AM

No word on what the box went for

Dune Behind the Scenes hosts a page of props from the 1985 David Lynch adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic (via >Den of Geeks! top 75 spaceships from movies and tv list). So many knick knacks, so little shelf space.

Posted by the Flea at 05:44 AM

Downhill to Death Valley

This is the correct procedure.

Posted by the Flea at 05:43 AM

Kent: Töntarna

Posted by the Flea at 05:42 AM

February 06, 2011

Arvo Pärt: Symphony No. 4, 'Los Angeles' (3&4/5) - II: Affannoso

Tyran Grillo reviews the ECM CD release recorded at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

Arvo Pärt’s Symphony No. 4 “Los Angeles” (2008) was the result of a Los Angeles Philharmonic Association joint commission. The symphony is dedicated to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Russian political prisoner in whose moral steadfastness Pärt found inspiration for the present work. Says the Estonian composer, “The tragic tone of the symphony is not a lament for Khodorkovsky, but a bow to the great power of the human spirit and human dignity.”

Background: Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

It is the Singapore model, it is a term that people understand in Russia these days. It means that theoretically you have a free press, but in practice there is self-censorship. Theoretically you have courts; in practice the courts adopt decisions dictated from above. Theoretically there are civil rights enshrined in the constitution; in practice you are not able to exercise some of these rights."
Posted by the Flea at 02:38 PM

February 05, 2011

This blog is now about Mila Kunis


Mila Kunis: "I know people say this all the time, but it’s true: I don’t ever want to work for the sake of working."

Update: But wait, there's more (hat tip to Agent Bedhead).

Posted by the Flea at 08:28 AM

Coffee Face Kiss

Created by Tsang Cheung-shing and on exhibition at the Hong Kong airport, Coffee Face Kiss is from the collection at the Hong Kong Museum of Art.

Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM

Jason Segel: Dracula's Lament

Posted by the Flea at 08:22 AM

February 04, 2011

Art Project

Hans_Holbein_The Ambassadors_Pisces_close_up.JPG

The Google Art Project allows you to take a streetview stroll into a number of famous art museums and then an extreme close up of a representative sampling of their contents. The extreme close up above is taken from a relatively dark spot in Hans Holbein's The Ambassadors.

Related: An handy guide of hex values for Crayola crayon colours. Take Burnt Sienna or Purple Mountain's Majesty, for example.

Posted by the Flea at 07:48 AM

A history of Star Wars maps

"You know what everyone loves in their epic science fiction/fantasy?"


In the last two decades, as the Star Wars universe has expanded in every format, this astrographical curiosity has gotten larger and larger. Interestingly, maps have followed suit with this expansion.

Maps at the link.

Posted by the Flea at 07:44 AM

Burberry Prorsum Womenswear Spring/Summer 2011 Show

Aside from Emma Watson, I admire Burberry's century long strategy of building a fashion house around a trench coat. They will be wearing something like it come the Federation assuming there is anything left of us after the somewhat belated Eugenics Wars.

Posted by the Flea at 07:43 AM

Alexandra Stan: Mr. Saxobeat

Hat tip to Beautiful Atrocities.

Posted by the Flea at 07:42 AM

February 03, 2011

Kenneth Grant, RIP


British occultist, novelist and H.P. Lovecraft enthusiast, founder of the Typhonian O.T.O., Kenneth Grant has died. Grant enjoyed the mixed reputation attendent to anyone claiming succession to Aleister Crowley in one of several magickal orders; I tend to think Grant's claim to the title was the best.

Crowley himself described the man as "a definite gift from the Gods". Admittedly, he meant as a secretary but to someone with Uncle Al's organizational challenges I would take the words as high praise.

Context: Beyond our Ken: a review of ‘Against the Light: A Nightside Narrative’ by Alan Moore.

“This is a terrible defect in your outlook on life; you cannot be content with the simplicity of reality and fact; you have to go off into a pipe-dream.”
Aleister Crowley, writing to Kenneth Grant, February 15, 1945

As fascinating and as ultimately mystifying as a giant squid in a cocktail dress, what shall we make of Kenneth Grant? I know few occultists without at least a passing interest in his work, and I know fewer still who would profess to have the first idea what he is on about. What he is on.
Posted by the Flea at 07:58 AM

Know your place

Batman: Plutocrat.

Posted by the Flea at 07:57 AM

Picnic with the monk

"Interessant. Ungewöhnlich. Hörenswert."

Christian Zehnder sings in the chapel of Romainmôtier. More overtones in Part II and Part III.

Posted by the Flea at 07:54 AM

King Crimson: Sailor's Tale

Posted by the Flea at 07:52 AM

February 02, 2011

A dream come true


Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray will return to Southfork in TNT's Dallas reboot.

The updated Dallas pilot, from Cane creator Cynthia Cidre and Warner Horizon, centers on the offspring of bitter rivals and brothers J.R. (Hagman) and Bobby Ewing (Duffy) -- J.R.'s son, John Ross (Henderson) and Bobby and Pam Ewing's adopted son, Christopher -- who clash over the future of the Ewing dynasty while the fate of Southfork itself weighs in the balance.

This blog is now about the Dallas reboot.

With the possible exception of Victor and Nikki's wedding, the greatest moment in soap opera history.

Time to start lobbying for a W cameo.

Posted by the Flea at 06:58 AM

The tourtière debate

I have fortified the chantry with tourtière and Biere Boris. Let it snow.

Is there such a thing as Canadian cuisine? The idea of ordering "Canadian" may have some scratching their heads. But Canada has given the world its share of gastronomic delights. From peameal bacon to poutine to pemmican, CBC Archives digs in to some distinctly homegrown fare.
Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM

Alfred Hitchcock Presents - Lamb to the Slaughter (1958)

Featuring Miss Ellie.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

Florence And The Machine: You Got The Love (The XX Remix)

Posted by the Flea at 06:52 AM

February 01, 2011



John Barry has died, aged 77.

John Barry, who died on January 30 aged 77, was one of the most successful of all film composers; he won five Oscars for scores that included Born Free, Out of Africa and Dances With Wolves, but wrote his best-known and most enduring music for the James Bond films.

Some find perfection in Mozart. For me, it is to be found here. This is music for storytelling.

The Ipcress File (1965)

The Persuaders! (1971–1972)

Moonraker (1979)

Out of Africa (1985)

Posted by the Flea at 05:41 AM