7. Old Christmas Traditions; New Christmas Toys

Dec-20-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: xkcd looks at popular Christmas songs, and finds it’s all the Boomers’ fault. Brilliant research. Meanwhile David Sedaris has a very funny 15 minute monologue on the Netherlands strange traditions. A wonderful site (Thanks, Wilder!) called Know Your Meme will let you look up the latest trends and their history (look at what they do with the hip new phrase “yolo” for further enlightenment!) And David Pogue lets you find new gadgets under $100 to buy yourself  your beloveds, if you’re still searching.

* Xmas Tradition xkcd

* Six to Eight Black Men David Sedaris  YouTube

* December 21st, 2012  Know Your Meme

 Learn about why some people have been predicting the end of the world on 12/21/12 for over 56 years, and who the authors were who popularized the story.

* David Pogue’s 12 Days of Gadgets

Why can’t somebody invent a little beeper for your key ring? If you walk away from your smartphone (iPhone, Android phone or BlackBerry), your key chain beeps to alert you.

And it could work the other way, too. If you leave your keys somewhere, the phone beeps to alert you as you walk away!

That’s exactly the point of the Cirago iAlert Tag



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!



8. Books

Oct-05-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: After you’ve looked at the hundred best opening lines, you can casually shrug and say, “Yeah, I’ve read part of it,” about a lot of very famous books. Or if you want to read (or listen) to SF, we have links to free (and legal) classics. (If you are into SF, read The Verge’s long piece on Philip K. Dick, and his fans, who are known as “Dickheads”.) And a short video in support of the ongoing fight against banning books.

* 100 Best Opening Lines American Book Review

Starting with “Call me Ishmael” this is an enjoyable quick scan. For those of a competitive bent, I was 10/10, and 18/20

* Free Science Fiction Classics on the Web: Huxley, Orwell, Asimov, Gaiman & Beyond   Open Culture

1984 (audio, print) Frankenstein, Foundation Trilogy, lots Dick, Gaiman (Graveyard Stories)

* Neil Gaiman Explains All Hallow’s Read – YouTube

Neil Gaiman, author of things, explains All Hallow’s Read, a Tradition that was just waiting to happen. No zombies were actually killed during the making of this video.

* Banned Books The Presurfer

Bookmans, an independent bookstore with six locations in Arizona, created this video for the 2012 Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out. During Bookmans’ 36-year fight against censorship, the shattered light bulb emerged as a powerful symbol of the importance of free speech.

In this video, combining passages from banned books read by customers and employees, Bookmans created a statement about how books inform, engage and inspire the light in each of us.



7. Dilemmas

Sep-28-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: We face dilemmas every day: should I use a spoon or a knife to get the jam out of the jar and spread it? (hint: use a SpoonSpreader). Here are some other dilemmas you might have to deal with, or might be curious about.

* The Devil’s Game  Futility Closet

Ms. C dies and goes to hell, where the devil offers a game of chance. If she plays today, she has a ½ chance of winning; if she plays tomorrow, the chance will be ⅔; and so on. If she wins, she can go to heaven, but if she loses she must stay in hell forever. When should she play?

* On The Difference Between A $99 Suit And A $5,000 Suit Reddit

Off-the-rack suits tend to be made to have a generic, shapeless, “not that bad” look. It’s not that the designers or tailors are un-skilled. On the contrary, it takes tremendous skill and knowledge to make a suit design that accommodates only a single measurement, such as chest-size. Mass-market OTR suit-designers are absolutely hiring the best designers and tailors money can buy. The problem is that they are not making a suit for you, they are making suit for everyone, and suits don’t work that way.

Suits, unlike sweatpants or t-shirts, are made to have a “shape”. If you think about those insulated beer-cozys, a suit is meant to be a sort of “wineglass cozy”: you will never get it to fit the same way on a champagne flute as on a Bordeaux-glass.

* Missing Woman Searches For Self - Boing Boing

A search and rescue operation was underway near Iceland’s Eldgjá canyon last Saturday when a woman did not return to her tour bus. Turns out, the woman had in fact returned to the tour bus and had actually helped try to find, um, herself. According to Iceland Review Online, “Before reentering the bus after the stop at Eldgjá, the woman had changed her clothes and freshened up, resulting in the other passengers not recognizing her… She didn’t recognize the description of herself and ‘had no idea that she was missing,’” said the area’s police chief.



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