Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
When it comes to cover design, the science fiction genre is often accused, along with romance novels, of having the most godawful cover design going. With their typical brilliance in style, Penguin embraces all the good, the bad and the comically ugly in traditional sci-fi design with their science fiction series. From the campy cartoon-style creatures and ridiculous, buxom alien babes of space opera, to the darkly stylized futuristic cities in dystopian futures Penguin covered it all with story selection and cover illustration…
Confidently judge books by their covers at “Penguin’s Science Fiction.”
[TotH to @MartyKrasney]
* Stephen Wright
As we travel through space and time, we might recall that it was on this date in 1963 that Arthur K. “Spud” Melin patented the Hula Hoop. In fact, both Melin’s company, Wham-O, and others had been selling millions of Martex (plastic) hoops since the late 50s. Melin’s innovation was an improved version- which, by virtue of the intellectual property protection, was available only from Wham-O.
No sensation has ever swept the country like the Hula Hoop. It remains the standard against which all national crazes are measured.
– Richard A. Johnson, American Fads
Approximately 50 million animals are killed every year for their fur; by comparison, 1 million animals a day– 365 million a year– are killed on the roads of America. As Culture Change puts it, “only meat-eaters take a larger toll than its motorists.”
Where many animal lovers see, simply, tragedy, Anna Paquin sees opportunity as well. Determined to create a clothing category that might sound oxymoronic– “ethical fur”– Paquin has founded Petit Mort, a company that recycles roadkill into fashionable clothing and accessories.
Wrap yourself in Anna’s story at “One Woman Is Revolutionizing the Fur Industry. By Using Roadkill.”
As we bundle up, we might spare a thought for Hypatia; she was killed on this date in 370 CE. A mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher, she was the head of the Neoplatonic school at Alexandria. She was murdered by a mob of Christian anti-pagan fanatics on the steps of an Alexandria church called The Caesarium– as a result of which, she has become a symbol of martyred Reason and of feminism. Stephen Greenblatt suggests that her murder “effectively marked the downfall of Alexandrian intellectual life”; Kathleen Wider proposes that her murder marked the end of Classical antiquity.
Neo-platonism is a progressive philosophy, and does not expect to state final conditions to men whose minds are finite. Life is an unfoldment, and the further we travel the more truth we can comprehend. To understand the things that are at our door is the best preparation for understanding those that lie beyond.
Gas stations have long been synonymous with cold pizza, dried-out doughnuts and mediocre hot dogs rotating on unappetizing roller grills. But in cities like Miami, Kansas City, and even Saxapahaw, N.C., among others, patrons can fuel up on gourmet grub and top off their tanks in one stop…
Gas stations for a long time have been a low-margin business. Owners typically make their real profits not on fuel sales but on the snacks and other items customers purchase when they come inside the station. These latest gas station eats are just taking that business model up a notch or two…
Fill ‘er up at “The Joys of Good Gas Station Food.”
* “Clark Griwold” (Chevy Chase), National Lampoon’s Vacation
As we pull in to take out, we might send tasty birthday greetings to the culinary genius behind green eggs and ham, Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA “Dr. Seuss”; he was born on this date in 1904. After a fascinating series of early-career explorations, Geisel settled on a style that created what turned out to be the perfect “gateway drug” to book addiction for generations of young readers.
The more that you read,
The more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
The more places you’ll go.
– I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (1978)
From Alex Bellos: the results of his global online poll to find the world’s favorite number…
The winner? Seven– and it wasn’t even close…
As we settle for anything but snake eyes, we might send symbolic birthday greetings to John Pell; he was born on this date in 1611. An English mathematician of accomplishment, he is perhaps best remembered for having introduced the “division sign”– the “obelus”: a short line with dots above and below– into use in English. It was first used in German by Johann Rahn in 1659 in Teutsche Algebra; Pell’s translation brought the symbol to English-speaking mathematicians. But Pell was an important influence on Rahn, and edited his book– so may well have been, many scholars believe, the originator of the symbol for this use. (In any case the symbol wasn’t new to them: the obelus [derived from the word for “roasting spit” in Greek] had already been used to mark passages in writings that were considered dubious, corrupt or spurious…. a use that surely seems only too appropriate to legions of second and third grade math students.)
From Boing Boing.
As we revisit vocation, we might send thoughtful birthday greetings to Michel Eyquem de Montaigne; he was born on this date in 1533. Best known during his lifetime as a statesman, Montaigne is remembered for popularizing the essay as a literary form. His effortless merger of serious intellectual exercises with casual anecdotes and autobiography– and his massive volume Essais (translated literally as “Attempts” or “Trials”)– contain what are, to this day, some of the most widely influential essays ever written. Montaigne had a powerful influence on writers ever after, from Descartes, Pascal, and Rousseau, through Hazlitt, Emerson, and Nietzsche, to Zweig, Hoffer, and Asimov. Indeed, he’s believed to have been an influence on the later works of Shakespeare.
“You know who’s going to inherit the earth? Arms dealers. Because everyone else is too busy killing each other”*…
The United States is at the center of a great colorful pinwheel of death, at least according to the latest infographic from Natalia Bronshtein, a data visualizer who focuses on economic trends and political developments. She has worked to produce an interactive visualization of the world’s top 100 arms-producing companies.
Surprising no one, the United States makes more money on war than any other country. Really, it’s not even close. Using the 2013 arms production database of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) as her data source, Bronshtein shows that 40 of the top 100 arms-producing companies in the world are based in the United States, with Lockheed Martin and Boeing being the biggest of the bunch. The visualization represents each company as a circle within the larger circle of its nationality — the bigger the radius, the more money the company or country made selling arms…
The invisible elephant in Bronshtein’s chart ends up being China, which is missing from the SIPRI database, but it’s doubtful it would bump America down. According to SIPRI, China spent $188 billion to America’s $640 billion on its military in 2013, making it the world’s second most expensive military. If China’s companies are making as much money on arms as its military is spending on them, China still likely wouldn’t be enough to knock America from the top of the list…
Read more at “Guess Which Country’s Companies Profit Most From War?” and explore Brohstein’s visualization here.
* “Yuri Orlov” (Nicolas Cage), Lord of Wars
As we give peace a chance, we might send ingenious birthday greetings to Clarence Leonard “Kelly” Johnson; he was born on this date in 1910. A storied aeronautical engineer, He contributed to the design of 40 aircraft, from the P-38 Lightning fighter and the Hudson bomber to the U-2 spy plane and the F-104 Starfighter interceptor.
But Johnson is probably best remembered as the founding leader of Lockheed’s Skunk Works, a development group that has become a model in the business, engineering, and technical arenas of an effective approach to innovation– a group with a high degree of autonomy within an organization, unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects.