7. Ageing and Death

Nov-09-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: A very mixed bag: a 93 year old superhero grandmother becomes a media sensation, a strange Guardian chart lets you estimate your chances of going in any particular way (more accurately if you live in the UK, but still fascinating). LifeHacker praises my favourite film of 2012, a gentle portrait of an obsessive 85 year old sushi chef, while a chilling series of paintings by William Utermohlen chronicle his descent into Alzheimer’s.

* Mamika the Superhero Grandma  TwistedSifter

To raise his ninety-three-year-old grandmother’s spirits, French photographer Sacha Goldberger engaged her as his creative collaborator, model, and muse. Countless costumes, geriatric gaffes, unbelievable stunts, and hilarious photo shoots later, Mamika has become an international media sensation. She even has 1,300 friends on Facebook!

Published earlier this year, Mamika: My Mighty Little Grandmother captures the feisty heroine in a range of amusing scenarios, all accompanied by her droll observations about life and living, making this book a treasure trove of witty, sardonic wisdom for readers of all ages.

* What do people die of? The Guardian

How do we die? Are you more likely to get knocked down by a car, bitten by a dog or fall down the stairs? Find out with the latest mortality statistics. Mortality rates and data for every cause of death in 2011 visualized

* Lessons We Can Learn from Jiro Ono LifeHacker

I have been re-watching the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi for the past couple of months. I’ve seen it at least 10 times, probably more, while writing drafts for this article. I’ve watched it alone, with my wife, with friends, and I don’t tire of it; I’ve recommended it to everyone I know, and now I’m wholeheartedly recommending it to you. I have watched this film in fascination, trying to extract lessons from this master. What have I learned from him? And what questions do these lessons open up for me?

This little gem of a documentary by David Gelb takes a look at the work and life of Jiro Ono, a Michelin three-star sushi chef who, at 85 years of age, continues to work on his craft every day at his tiny restaurant in a Tokyo office building basement opposite a subway station entrance. His colleagues, his country, and at least one very knowledgeable food writer recognize him as perhaps the greatest sushi chef alive.

* William Utermohlen Self Portraits

The late self-portraits of William Utermohlen, chronicling his descent into Alzheimer’s disease, have been widely exhibited in the United States and Europe. We bring together on this web site early and late works to illustrate the continuity, as well as the rupture brought about by dementia in William Utermohlen’s art.

…Patricia Utermohlen recollects the beginning of this final artistic period in her husband’s life: “William was not happy in the mezzanine studio, so it was decided he should move to a studio outside the house in the east end of London. We were soon aware that something serious was happening. He got lost traveling to the studio and began to miss appointments.” Blue Skies was painted in the new studio; it was to be his last large work. 

“It is empty by comparison with the other pictures,  and painted in a much more urgent manner …  Obviously it is a self- portrait.   He sits alone at his painting table,  no evidence of paints and brushes. The colour composition of the whole  picture is simple,  just  a burnt sienna yellow and deep ultramarine blue,  the only break is a little white and the happy light yellow table top that reminds us of his hopeful pictures.   The figure is dominated by the empty space,  one hand grasps the cup,  and the other hangs on to the table for reassurance,  whilst above him is  the skylight.  Although the shape is reminiscent of the other studio shape in Snow, his one leads to nowhere,  just to a terrifying lonely emptiness.”

According to Dr Polini in order to continue functioning, the artist must be able to capture this catastrophic moment.  He must depict the unspeakable – a certain knowledge of his own end. Rarely has a painting spoken so clearly of the ending of psychic life and the desperate effort to continue to exist by continuing to depict the world. 



8. Fun & Games

Nov-09-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: Who knew that Monopoly was a socialist game? What an amazing story! The “Slower Speed of Light” is a fun game (druggy effects masquerading as quantum science), and took me 10 minutes to complete. You don’t need to know any science…. and trippy ball play is druggy effects without the mask. Unbored is serious fun, and the excerpt has the best instructions on how to build a remote controlled water blaster you’ve ever seen.

* Monopoly Was Stolen From Socialist Land-Reformers And Perverted Cory Doctorow Boing Boing

Cory summarizes the story, and offers a link to the full article

Christopher Ketcham’s beautifully written Harper’s feature on the history of Monopoly, “Monopoly Is Theft,” traces the idealistic socialist land-reformers who created the game and modified it over decades, and the unscrupulous “inventor” who claimed to have created it and sold it to Parker Brothers. Monopoly’s forerunner was “The Landlord’s Game,” created by Lizzie Magie, inspired by Henry George, who believed in the abolition of land-ownership and created a powerful movement to make this a reality. Many of George’s devotees played The Landlord’s Game, learning about the evils of real-estate and rentiers, and they modified the rules together, creating the game as we know it, changing its name to “monopoly” (all lower-case). Then “an unemployed steam-radiator repairman and part-time dog walker from Philadelphia named Charles Darrow” copied it, patented it, and sold it to Parker Brothers. The rest is history.

* A Slower Speed of Light  MIT Game Lab

A Slower Speed of Light is a first-person game in which players navigate a 3D space while picking up orbs that reduce the speed of light in increments. A custom-built, open-source relativistic graphics engine allows the speed of light in the game to approach the player’s own maximum walking speed. Visual effects of special relativity gradually become apparent to the player, increasing the challenge of gameplay. These effects, rendered in realtime to vertex accuracy, include the Doppler effect (red- and blue-shifting of visible light, and the shifting of infrared and ultraviolet light into the visible spectrum); the searchlight effect (increased brightness in the direction of travel); time dilation (differences in the perceived passage of time from the player and the outside world); Lorentz transformation (warping of space at near-light speeds); and the runtime effect (the ability to see objects as they were in the past, due to the travel time of light). Players can choose to share their mastery and experience of the game through Twitter. A Slower Speed of Light combines accessible gameplay and a fantasy setting with theoretical and computational physics research to deliver an engaging and pedagogically rich experience.

* Trippy Ball Play via Reddit

* Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun — exclusive excerpt: “Remote-Controlled Water Blaster” - Boing Boing

The following project is excerpted from Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun,ir.gif by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen, designed by Tony Leone, published in October by Bloomsbury.

I wrote the introduction to Unbored, and it is probably the best do-it-yourself and activity book for children I’ve seen. The variety of projects is astounding, and it’s modern and appealing to kids and adults. Many contemporary kids’ activity books are rehashes of the old “Handy Book For Boys and Girls” that aren’t much fun and, in my opinion, not very accurate. If you take a look at those old books, you might come to the same conclusion as me that the authors didn’t make the sail boats, wind carts, truss bridges, and other projects.Unbored, on the other hand, has real projects that were actually tested out. Here’s an example of a real project from Unbored….

SOAK AND DESTROY: Remote-Controlled Water Blaster Written and photographed John Edgar Park

Want to keep your brothers, sisters, and friends from breaking into your secret fort to dig through your comic books? Build a remote-controlled motorized water blaster so you can soak them while sneakily savouring the moment from a safe distance!



10. On Paper

Nov-09-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye:  A pencil and paper… or a cutting tool and paper. Lowtech=> stunning images. Aside: As I was putting this section together, I noticed that all three came from Twisted Sifter, a wonderful website that offers a fine set of images and art pieces from around the web. You obviously like such things or you wouldn’t be reading this, so you might want to check his website out. Always some new delight there!

* Anamorphic 3D Drawings by Ramon Bruin

* Adonna Khare’s Amazing 288 sq ft Elephants Mural Drawn by Pencil

* 20 Sculptures Cut from a Single Piece of Paper 



11. Third Eye Candy: Water

Nov-09-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: Technically it’s five pieces of eye-candy, and one of ear-candy. But hopefully, you’ll enjoy them all anyway.

* Amazing Water Drop Refractions by Markus Reugels

In his series entitled Refractions, Markus takes high-speed photographs of water droplets as they fall in front of a background image. With amazing timing and persistence, Markus is able to capture the ‘refraction’ of the image inside the droplet of water. The results speak for themselves.

* 10 (New) Hilarious Portraits of Dogs Underwater

* The Colorful and Bizarre World of Starfish   TreeHugger 

* 8 Wonderful Terraced Pools Around the World The World Geography

* Fish Creates Beautiful Sand Art to Attract Females

* Because Rain Makes Everything Better



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