Friday, June 26, 2009

Little red dot

From a simulated alien perspective in space, Earth looks red, not blue.


In Thailand, a zoo painted their elephants to look like pandas, because no one cares about elephants anymore.

Chapel on the moon

Meghan's last post makes me think of the Believer article about the chapel on the moon.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

To the makers of music

I can't believe we've never made a post about the Voyager Golden Record. There is more to come, but for now here's Ann Druyan describing the experience of making an hour-long recording of her own brainwaves for inclusion in what Jimmy Carter called 'a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings.'

"Earlier I had asked Carl if those putative extraterrestrials of a billion years from now could conceivably interpret the brain waves of a meditator. Who knows? A billion years is a long, long time, was his reply. On the chance that it might be possible why don't we give it a try?
Two days after our life-changing phone call, I entered a laboratory at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and was hooked up to a computer that turned all the data from my brain and heart into sound. I had a one-hour mental itinerary of the information I wished to convey. I began by thinking about the history of Earth and the life it sustains. To the best of my abilities I tried to think something of the history of ideas and human social organization. I thought about the predicament that our civilization finds itself in and about the violence and poverty that make this planet a hell for so many of its inhabitants. Toward the end I permitted myself a personal statement of what it was like to fall in love."

Monday, June 22, 2009


How sunspots evolve.

Plants can communicate

Sagebrush can warn other sagebrush plants of danger. They don't secrete the same chemicals warning of danger if the air passage is closed and other plants cant receive ths signals.

Also, plants can discriminate between themselves and other plants.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Good Fight

Click the photo for info on the documentary on the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a group of Americans who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. I cannot stress how moving this film was. It's available on Netflix. Most, if not all, of the veterans interviewed are now deceased.

Stillborn suburb

Newsweek's slideshow of recent scenes of economic desolation. This is a nearly vacant subdivision in Rio Vista, California.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Holy shit

NASA space shuttle passing the sun. Via Alyssa.

Alan Thicke explains Twin Peaks


Free Floating

From a transcript of Oprah:

Dr. KAMLER: Well, people in that condition often do experience what they consider an altered state. When they're very close to dying, the little energy they have left, the body uses that to maintain the basic functions like respiration, breathing and heartbeat, and it doesn't supply energy to the higher centers of thinking and learning and emotion. So those parts are detached, essentially, from the rest of your mind, the rest of your brain. It allows your mind to sort of float free. And in those cases, people hallucinate and they have these very intense images.

WINFREY: Did you have intense images?

Ms. MELTON: I saw my kids. I smelled my kids.

WINFREY: He smelled his wife's perfume.

King of Kong

I can't believe I never mentioned how much I loved this movie. This trailer doesn't display how compelling this film is, but it's a start.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Snowflake the albino gorilla was just a baby once, and lived in the Barcelona Zoo veterinarian's apartment.

"I am a regular, simple person living a normal life."

"As she arrived at work one afternoon in April, Kermen Basangova, the director of a small academy here, was stabbed to death in her car, the police said... Members of the faculty and staff at the school, the State Polar Academy, expressed grief and confusion. They were even more confused the next morning, when Ms. Basangova returned to work. The killing had been a ruse. The police said they had staged her death to ensnare her deputy, who had been plotting to kill her."

More here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Imagine Lexington Avenue as a River

A few interesting things I learned while reading The World Without Us

- There is enough steel wire in the three-inch main cables of the George Washington Bridge to wrap around the Earth four times. Every year baby peregrine falcons hatch at the top of the GWB's towers. Grass, weeds, and ailanthus trees bloom in metal niches high above the water and have to be weeded out.

- If New York City were abandoned and there were no people and no power to work the pumps that drain water away from the subway tunnels, they'd flood completely in days. 36 hours if a hard rain fell.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

This scares me

David Levinthal

"He bought a package of toy Nazi soldiers over Christmas break and began photographing them on the floor of his parents' house... Levinthal teamed up with Garry Trudeau and together they sequenced the images into a graphic chronicle of Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II. The result was the 1977 book Hitler Moves East, a masterpiece of historical imagination that sustains an unsettling tension between the innocence of child's play and the ghastly horrors of war."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Last two quotes

"How foolish of me to believe that it would be that easy. I had confused the appearances of trees and automobiles and people with reality itself, and believed that a photograph of these appearances to be a photograph of it. It is a melancholy truth that I will never be able to photograph it and can only fail. I am a reflection photographing other reflections within a reflection. To photograph reality is to photograph nothing."

"Art is not fashionable. That's why fashion and art are two different things. Fashion can never be art because fashion deals with whim, what is temporary, what changes, what is transient, what is now and not now. Art has to deal with issues that are timeless, that never change."

Duane Michals

And a quote

"It is no accident that you are reading this. I am making black marks on white paper. These marks are my thoughts, and although I do not know who you are reading this now, in some way the lines of our lives have intersected... For the length of these few sentences, we meet here.

"It is no accident that you are reading this. This moment has been waiting for you, I have been waiting for you. Remember me."

Duane Michals

Duane Michals

This photograph is my proof. There was that afternoon when things were still good between us, and she embraced me. And we were so happy. It did happen. She did love me. Look, see for yourself!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pope mouse

I went to this amazing store Paxton Gate in San Francisco. They sold taxidermy mice, made by Jeanie M. See?

Pahon Mann

Junk drawers and medicine cabinets. I like this idea but I would've gotten more out of it if he included lists of the items in each drawer.

Tornado Potato!!!!

From Katie