A picture of "The Asthma Quilt"

“The Asthma Quilt”, which uses scraps of industrial fabric to map out the incidence of asthma in NYC (via @auremoser). A programming language designed to function, and be read, like a comic strip. It seems the question “what is consciousness?” has become a hot subject in the field of consumer-psychology research. Veblen’s conspicuous consumption, updated for the humblebragging world of I’m sooo busy with work: “Conspicuous Consumption of Time”. The art-game Humanity: Think Lemmings, except with hundreds of thousands of faceless humans; and beatings; and guns. “Antipodal words” perform a semantic U-turn, and contain their opposite. Teaching robots not just to see, but to predict what they’re about to see.

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Photo of a Hagelin CD-57 pocket cipher machine

Man, I’d love to get this pocket cipher machine at the upcoming Sotheby’s “History of Science and Technology” auction. (It’s $3,500, though.) Using an algorithm to co-write a sci-fi short story. How Linneas invented the index card (and thus, ultimately, the database). A book on the science of jellyfish (which, under global warming, may wind up ruling the planet). They may have found the bones of the original Saint Nicholas. LED traffic lights are so energy-efficient they don’t emit enough heat to melt the snow that gathers on them. Wow, when Time picked the computer as “Machine of the Year” in 1983, the cover illustration was creepy. Some proof that lightning creates antimatter.

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How NASA tests its most powerful rocket ever; gorgeous photos by Vincent Fournier. Everyday women in the early Neolithic and Bronze Age were likely stronger than today’s athletes. A guitar tuner designed for blind musicians. A good discussion of the question “Is it ethical to work for online casinos?” Behold the 1739 book Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophy Explain’d for the Use of the Ladies. Building a regex engine in 40 lines of Javascript. The first text-message ever sent, 25 years ago, said “Merry Christmas”. A 1913 manual on the construction of swimming pools. Storytelling considered as an evolutionary survival skill. A DIY muon detector that costs only $100 in parts.

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A row of "Lixie" tubes

The Lixie, an inexpensive and open-source update on the famous “Nixie” numerical tube-displays. “Subsurface Exolife”, a paper that analyzes “the prospects for life on planets with subsurface oceans”.  CSS Grid is pretty cool. A poem by Leonard Cohen that explains what one ought not to find surprising about nazis. Here’s the 1753 book on how to annoy people: An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting (subhead: “With some General INSTRUCTIONS for Plaguing all of your Acquaintances”). The arrival of the first giraffe in Paris in the 1820s caused quite a sensation. An animated gif that can produce, in some, an illusion of sound. Using sensors in mobile phones to predict how drunk you are by analyzing changes in your gait.

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A chart at Digiconomist showing the power usage of Bitcoin compared to that of several countries
Bitcoin uses so much electricity it is equal to 45% of the energy used in the Czech Republic, and about 6% of that used in Canada. NASA just commanded Voyager 1 to fire up its thrusters for the first time in 37 years; they worked perfectly. “Appeals to Passion, Venom, Sensationalism, Attacks on Honest Officials, Strife, Distorted News, Personal Grievance, [and] Misrepresentation”: The shoddy journalism of 1910. A philosopher makes the case the virtues of never being born. A study finds most Redditors vote on a link without reading the article. A majority of millennials now reject capitalism, though they’re not as sure what the alternate should be; intriguing and subtle stuff here. Ten years of Kindle design. I am going to make this lovely angled origami box.

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"La Liberté Triomphante", a 1792 illustration from the French revolution, showing Liberty brandishing a thunderbolt in one hand and a Phrygian cap on a stick in the other

Why the French revolution adopted the lightning bolt as the symbol for “the will of the people”. How to tell if you’re a jerk. “Scurryfunge,” “mogshade”, “popple”, and 363 other English words that we have sadly stopped using. Science has determined you can drink as much damn coffee as you like. The use of “meritocracy” soared from its invention in 1958 until today, except for a big dip in the 80s. Meet the New York Times“super commenters”. Why China is building the world’s hugest dish to look for extraterrestrial life. The last people in the US still using iron lungs. A Javascript punch-card emulator. Tearing a book apart and reassembling it, letter by letter: A gorgeous art project!

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"Desert necklace", a 1995 sculpture

“Desert Necklace” is a lovely and haunting 1995 work by the Dutch artist Peter Hoogeboom. A smartphone-shaped fidget gadget. NYC has genetically distinct “uptown” and “downtown” rats. Is life inevitable, as dictated by the laws of physics? Behold The California Review of Images and Mark Zuckerberg. Why social media traps in the eternal present: My latest essay for THIS magazine. Why analog circuits could make for faster, better neural nets. A Greenland Shark that may be over 500 years old. I dig Write.as, a new, stripped-down blogging engine. Amazon parody reviewers strike again! On War Primer, Bertolt Brecht’s multimedia book of antifascist poetry. On the cognitive impact of spreadsheets. Flash-photography powder, invented in Germany in 1887, was originally dubbed “Blitzlichtpulver”, or “lightning light powder”. NASA’s 1981 history of ball bearings.

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A little Processing experiment I created: 5,000 bouncing balls that make weirdly mesmerizing patterns. (Caution: Maybe don’t leave it open for too long on your laptop browser; it hoovers browser processing-power, particularly in Firefox.) The 1959 brochure introducing the “FLOW-MATIC” programming language. Superb long essay on the post-Weinstein uncorking of decades of professional women’s stories about, and fury over, workplace treatment. Why watch hands run clockwise (and why some don’t). What it’s like to take LSD while listening to Brian Eno’s latest generative-music app. What happens to an open-source code base when its chief author dies? US neo-Nazis are unhappy with the latest Castle Wolfenstein game. A BBC radio drama you interact with via Amazon’s Alexa. Letting the Iphone’s predictive-text write your epitaph.  A new John Donne manuscript, replete with scatalogical humor, has surfaced. How to build computer logic using relays, in the 1941 book “Giant Brains, or, Machines That Think”.

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Photos of hurricane clouds, from US government fly-throughs

Photos of hurricane clouds, taken by government fly-throughs. The “Knight TouchBar 2000”, an implementation of KITT’s chaser hood-animation on the Macbook TouchBar. Our corner of the universe increasingly appears to be “weird”, and possibly unrepresentative of the rest of reality. “Empathy produces data on what it is like to be other people.” A history of the idea of Purgatory. Bird feeders appear to be creating evolutionary pressure that makes bird-beaks longer. Tim Carmody on the experience of time in Dante’s Inferno, and how it relates to our last Trumpian year. Debugging a program by listening to the PCM data-dump in Audacity, to locate the memory leak. Contented hippos. What actual government policies could respond to mass-employment-by-automation? “Edgar Allan Poe is dead … but few will be grieved by it.”: A positively brutal obituary.

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Illustration of "Amon", a demon from the 1844 Dictionnaire Infernal

Behold “Amon”, a demon from the lavishly-illustrated 1863 Dictionnaire Infernal, a catalogue of demons; here’s a great story about this wild book. A new waterproof Kindle. Homage to the SpaceOrb 360, the weirdest game controller ever. Wait, the Canadian navy invented the trackball? “Your job now has in-app purchases!” Online dating rose in the 90s, precisely the same time as rates of interracial marriage in the US also began to rise; they’re related, this study posits. A lovely and haunting short film about a doomed Mars mission. “Gluggaveður” is an Icelandic word for “window-weather”: Weather that looks appealing from inside, but proves less pleasant in reality (via @RobGMacfarlane) A fascinating study tracked the IRL interactions of men and women at work, and finds that they’re treated differently. Oysters, which have no ears, can hear thunderstorms.

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