Warptastical News for July 24-30 2016

Antidote for those post-convention blues

Will Smith’s biggest entrance. Matt Damon’s future pick for Vice President!

A thermometer is not Republican or Democrat.

• The US is finally building its first offshore windfarm. Better late than never. (For comparison, World’s biggest.)

• Distraction from the heat? Hallmark’s line of Star Trek themed Christmas ornaments.

• The Solar Impulse sun-powered plane has completed its trip around the world on July 25. It took 17 months.

Am I Emo? A revisit after 14 years.

• 2016 astronomy photo of the year contest entries. (Run by Royal Observatory Greenwich; 2700 entries in 2015)

Big bad Russian machine lays down a railroad track. Ties, gravel, the whole works.

Ruins of Hitler’s Olympic village. (Atlas Obscura. About.)

• The world isn’t getting worse; our info’s getting better.

Dangers of the internet of things. (Schneier)

Parkour in troubled Kashmir.

History in the Making | He was mocked for being England’s first umbrella user. (Hated by cab drivers.)

• Story of the guys who started Zimride Lyft after their first biz fail in 2012.

• Consumer Reports names 15 supplement ingredients to avoid.

• Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s bird videos. Studying birds since 1929. Birdsong archive.
Bonus track: Mozart’s starling.

<aside> Most of my screen wallpaper is pictures of the great outdoors. Maybe it’s the city living. I wonder: if I lived in the great outdoors, what would my collection look like? Tagged garage doors? Telephone poles festooned with flyers? Does your collection have a theme? </aside>

Facepalm Corner | A lame-ass chemical test found donut glaze to be positive for methamphetamine.


These new-fangled galaxy things

We’ve all heard how Copernicus, back in the 1500s, raised the thought that the Earth isn’t at the center of the universe. And how Galileo got in trouble for it. That was all quite a while ago.

But acceptance of the idea that there are galaxies out there is pretty new, no older than today’s oldest living citizens.


William and Caroline Herschel polishing a lens

By the end of the 19th century, big telescopes had existed for over a century. The Herschel family (William, Caroline, John and Alexander) had so many, they sort of made a family business out of astronomy.

While the galaxies had been spotted, in more primitive telescopes they looked like fuzzy smudges and so they were thought to be nebulas … patches of dust and gas. (Like the famous ‘Horsehead Nebula’ in Orion.) And all the nebulas – glowing either by the stars within them or reflected starlight – were thought to be in “the universe” we now call the Milky Way.

Great Debate

But by the end of the 1800s, a storm was brewing between the “conservative” and the “liberal” astronomers. Then in 1908, a lady astronomer (rare indeed) named Leavitt discovered a way to calculate the distance to objects in space … by studying stars called Cepheids.

And in 1920 there was a Great Debate between members of the two factions (Harvard vs Pittsburg). In 1924, a man named Hubble wrote a paper that began to change everyone’s view of the Universe. He said that he had found Cepheids … stars … in the ‘great spiral nebula in Andromeda’. And that it is millions of light-years away. It is not a nebula. It is the Milky Way’s big brother. End of that debate!

Before long…

In 1933 Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky was working at Caltech. He was studying a relatively nearby group of galaxies, over 1000 of them, called the Coma Cluster. (It’s about as wide in the sky as your thumb held at arm’s length.) He realized that they weren’t putting out enough light to explain their motions, and decided that much of them must be made of what he called ‘dark matter’.

The idea had to sit around waiting patiently for decades. (Am I suggesting that scientists will ignore hypotheses they personally don’t like? Yes! all the time.) Of course, the dawning realization that the universe was very, very large was keeping them all very busy at the time. Today, thanks to a telescope named Hubble, we know that there are more galaxies in the visible universe than there are stars in the Milky Way.

In the 1970s, lady astronomer Vera Rubin discovered that stars orbiting the outside of a spiral galaxy travel just as fast as those orbiting closer to the center. The question arose: why don’t galaxies fly apart? The answer hasn’t arrived!

Science moves on when confronted with enough facts. Of course, whether dark matter exists is still very much a question. Today, you could even say, there’s a great debate.

Warptastical News for July 17-23 2016

Big world out there.

I got arrested in Kazakhstan and represented myself in court.

Roadside America maps out attractions in every state. Don’t drive past the good stuff.

Pallet skating in Bratislava.

• Open, neutral internet. Community-owned. WiFi->Fiber. 30,000 users. Spain.

Awkward new magician gets a Penn & Teller thumbs-up.

The Encyclopedia of Matt Damon.

• First look at Blade Runner 2 concept art.

How to hide anything.

Pro kayaker, geomorphologist Natalie.

Fancy crow hop song. 2016 Alberta pow-wow – one of a hundred.

• About foreign words with no equivalent in English.
If you’re feeling some sehnsucht, weltschmerz or saudade, you’re probably not alone.

Punk chick gives talk at British Library, then defaces exhibit.

• A look at the new Aphex Twin EP.

• San Francisco’s queer spaces fighting gentrification too.

• 25 members of the US House have formed a Fourth Amendment Caucus.

US House investigates dangers of Pokemon Go (PDF).

• Nautilus’ issue 38 is about Noise.

Department of Wallpaper | Dead Horse Point | National Geographic travel photos.

Propellerhead Corner: | Lighting up a 20,000-watt lamp | At only 1/4 ‘power’, the new MeerKAT telescope found 1300 new galaxies | History of the URL | The bicycle problem

Websites people liked | Fanlore Wiki | Hardcore Gaming 101 | Reddit:Lectures | Wait But Why | Github Trending

If you’re at all a fan of:
Elvis Costello then this NYPL interview podcast is remarkable. (Nov. 2015)
Henry Rollins then here’s his weekly radio show archive.

Warptastical News for July 10-16 2016

• A cavity-stopping fluid dentists can paint on.

• What it’s like getting your genome sequenced.

• You’ll soon see the new Universal Flash Storage (UFS) cards (530MB/sec read!), replacing Micro-SD cards.

• The Library of Congress has a website they call Everyday Mysteries. BUT: if there’s an answer, what’s the mystery?
OTOH, there are plenty of mysteries in D.C. already.

• Anu Partanen says: What Finland and its neighbors do is actually walk the walk of opportunity that America only talks.

• “We are the warning signal.

• A person with 90% of their brain missing, active and mostly functional.

• Sales of music downloads continue to crash.

In 2015 a new class of antibiotic was discovered. None too soon.

14 gravity-defying funiculars.

• Colm Hogan reflects on Mixtape Memories & Deadbeat Dads.
I’m not sure what the solutions are for our current predicaments. I just know I love this tune.”

• Care to time travel? Listen to selections from 78RPM records from Africa.

• This pure CSS 3D animated environment will give your browser a workout.

Cute little homes are carved out of caring. And, maybe a little mud.

Google “deletes” artist’s blog, erasing 12 years of work. And there, ladies and gents, is The Cloud for ya. In a nutshell.

Apart from news …

This week’s Internet radio | In the world of classical-music FM radio, Minnesota Public Radio‘s remains one of the best. It’s found online here.
For those who prefer the melodic calm of the renaissance, there’s Hampshire, UK’s Ancient FM; tune in online here.

Podcast | The New York Public Library Podcast. RSS Feed. Website.
| The Longform Podcast. RSS Feed.
| On Being with Krista Tippett. RSS Feed. Website.

Useful factoid | Vitamin B12, needed to make red blood cells, was first isolated in 1948 and is only made by certain bacteria and archea. Even a slight B12 deficiency (caused by diet or disease) can cause fatigue, depression and poor memory. Over time it can damage the brain and nervous system.
Until the 1920s, the disease pernicious anemia was common; it was discovered that eating raw liver effected a cure. PA results when the intestines lack, or cannot properly absorb, B12. Mary Lincoln probably had it.

Best wry humor | Toward the end of Oscar-winner The Big Short, two guys sneak into the empty, trashed offices of recently bankrupt investment company Lehman Brothers.
Magaro (sighs): This isn’t how I pictured it.
Wittrock: What did you think we’d find?
Magaro: Grownups.

This week brought to you by Pokemon Go.

July 10 2016 | 160ya: Birthday of long forgotten, now celebrated inventor Nikola Tesla. Inventions | 0ya: Boon Sheridan’s garden and driveway are invaded by Pokémon Go players.

July 11 2016 | 30ya: Infocom releases interactive fiction computer game Leather Goddesses of Phobos.

July 12 2016 | 70ya: Instrument maker Harold Rhodes reveals his portable piano, the 38-key Rhodes piano. Before long there’s an electric version.

July 13 2016 | 48ya: Toronto band Steppenwolf releases hit song Born to Be Wild. | 0ya: Shayla Wiggins, a Wyoming teen hunting Pokemon, finds a dead body.

July 14 2016 | 54ya: Ray Stevens’ song Ahab the Arab makes the top-40 charts. | 2ya: Citigroup agrees to a $7 Billion fine for mortgage fraud. | 1ya: Pluto gets its first visit.

July 15 2016 | 4ya: Korean singer Psy releases massive hit song Gangnam Style. The video has 2.6 Billion views.

July 16 2016 | 65ya: Publication of Salinger novel The Catcher in the Rye. | 10ya: Launch of Twitter. What are you doing?

Warptastical News for July 3-9 2016

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. – Zappa

• Famous landmarks shot from the wrong direction. (Scrolls sideways.) Guess, then click.

• Crauwels’ museum-class MusicMap plots pop music by decades and genres.
Long articles for major genres include audio playlists. Zoom into each genre to see how it has evolved. Graphic, interactive, multiple access tools.

• Switching between challenging tasks is not a good idea, neuroscientists say. Switching “leads to a buildup of stress.”
Instead “people who take 15-minute breaks every couple of hours end up being more productive, says Levitin. But these breaks must allow for mind-wandering.”

If I’m really focussed, I miss my subconscious tapping on my shoulder. When I take a break to do nothing, better solutions often offer themselves.

Related book: An Essay on the Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field. Jacques_Hadamard, 1945. ISBN 0-691-02931-8

• 79-year-old NASA grandma (part of Juno team) just can’t quit. Speaking of which …

“I Miss My CDs”
There’s no guarantee of permanence or stability in the streaming atmosphere,”

• Seattle makes the list of US Top 10 worst traffic cities. Worst in the world? London. As a nation, USA leads the world.
Notably missing: places where few people can afford cars. Don’t often hear about worst bicycle traffic. Or rickshaw or sampan or yak.

• With the price of Starbux being gentrified 30 more cents, there has to be a *lot* of room for a dollar cuppa biz.

• A stroll over the vistory of elevated walkways. (More at MeFi)
For the two largest ‘indoor cities’ in North America, Minnesota and Calgary, you can now walk up to 11 miles along its paths without stepping onto the street below.”
(What, you didn’t know Minnesota is a city?)
(Possible parody song: You’ve Lost That Gerbil Feeling.)

• John Higgs (KLF), heavy on Robert Anton Wilson. (via johncoulthart.com) Related: Festival 23.

• Composer, author David Toop. (via johncoulthart.com) His blog. David’s book Ocean of Sound saw 28 editions from 1995-2008.

Luckily Internet Archive has stashed many of radio DJ Toby Tobsucht’s Netzklang EM mix classics. Each 1 or 2 hours. Less distracting because German spoken.

This week’s Internet radio | Polish Radio El-Stacja pushes out an excellent (serious) electronic music stream. Right-click-to-copy URLs: Lo-Fi Hi-fi.

Misc. Linkage | Security in a Box = a guide to digital security for activists and human rights defenders.
| Podcast: Security Now.
| (858) 651-5050

Propellerheads only | The History of the URL.

July 3 2016 | 130ya: The Benz Patent Motorwagen is the world’s first purpose-built auto.
| 25ya: Release of James Cameron’s most excellent sequel sci-fi action film Terminator 2. With more music by Brad Fiedel, who made 24 synth tracks for The Terminator.
Wolfie’s fine, dear. Where are you?

July 4 2016 | 50ya: NYC’s The Lovin’ Spoonful, led by John Sebastian, release US smash hit Summer in the City. One of the first to use live audio samples.
Same day, the Beatles are tossed outta the Phillipines for avoiding Imelda Marcos’ party. Rumor is she went and cried crocodile tears in her shoes. While Ferdinand just stacked more gold bars. That Ferdy was such a good provider.

July 6 2016 | 25ya: Release of Linklater film Slacker

July 9 2016 | 100ya: The NYTimes notes that Europeans are starting to wear bracelets with clocks on them.
| 60ya: DJ Dick Clark takes over as host of a Philadelphia TV show called Bob Horn’s Bandstand.
| 20ya: Release of the first soundtrack album for the film Trainspotting.

Every fact of science was once damned. Every invention was considered impossible. Every discovery was a nervous shock to some orthodoxy. Every artistic innovation was denounced as fraud and folly.

The entire web of culture and ‘progress,’ everything on earth that is man-made and not given to us by nature, is the concrete manifestation of some man’s refusal to bow to Authority.

We would own no more, know no more, and be no more than the first apelike hominids if it were not for the rebellious, the recalcitrant, and the intransigent. As Oscar Wilde truly said, ‘Disobedience was man’s Original Virtue’.
Robert Anton Wilson

Warptastical News for June 26 – July 2 2016

Yes, really!

• A California woman won $10,000 from Microsoft in small claims court after Win10 bricked her machine.

• George Orwell’s PERFECT cup of tea.

• The short story and long life of the Elcaset tape deck.
A paperback-book sized cassette … quarter-inch tape at double the speed … topped all but the best of the pro decks.

• Way too often in film, Gender-bent == Villain.

• China is running itself out of water. As one result, capital city Beijing has been sinking 3 feet every ten years. Not as bad as Mexico City, sinking 3 feet every three years!

• Ever heard the air ‘crackling’ during an aurora display? Finnish scientists say it’s not in your head, but 250 feet over your head. And they have lots of recordings.

• This French horticulturist created more than 200 varieties of lilacs… among many others.

• The rare gas helium has been found bubbling out of the ground in Tanzania. An estimated 54 billion cu. ft. of it! (The world uses about 8 BCf per year.)

Daphne’s wonderful Oramics machine.
“As a child in the 1930s, Daphne Oram dreamed of a way to turn drawn shapes into sound, and she dedicated her life to realising that goal.” BBC documentary (audio, 44m). Yes, there’s an app.

• What musician doesn’t wanna join a United States military band?

Dept. of Wallpaper | Moss forest, Japan

This week’s Internet radio | Soma FM offers 30 ‘channels’ for your listening pleasure, with several bit-rate choices.
EG Cliqhop (right-click-to-copy-link) offers “blips’n’bleeps backed w/ beats.”
| Oh, and … I’ll just leave Xiph directory here.

Sci-Tech zone | Audio beamforming. | He noticed tea leaves floating upstream.

June 26 2016 | 60ya: In New York, the US FDA begins burning the books, papers and journals of psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich.

June 27 2016 | 50ya: Goth soap opera Dark Shadows debuts on ABC. And Frank Zappa releases first album Freak Out!. | 30ya: Release of Jim Henson movie Labyrinth.

June 28 2016 | 47ya: The Stonewall Uprising. Stonewall just became a National Monument. | 170ya: Adolphe Sax patents the saxophone.

June 29 2016 | 80ya: NBC broadcasts the first HD TV (343 lines) from atop the Empire State. | 60ya: Eisenhower signs the law that creates the Interstate Highway System.

July 1 2016 | 75ya: NBC broadcasts the first official TV commercial. For a watch. Bulova pays $9.

If these people are sane, as they believe themselves to be, let us all hasten into what they would call insanity.
— Ajnabi, medieval Sufi teacher