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Friday, April 29, 2011

Giddy delight at technological progress

Giddy delight at technological progress: "My Make column 'Memento Mori' talks about the giddy, delightful vertigo I experience when I realize how fast and how far technology has come, and how fast it's moving:

I'm often puzzled by how satisfying older technology is. What a treat it is to muscle around an ancient teletype, feeding it new-old paper-tape or rolls of industrial paper with the weight of a bygone era. What pleasure I take from the length of piano roll I've hung like a banner from a high place in every office I've had since 2000.

How much satisfaction I derive from the racing works of the 1965 mechanical watch I received as a Father's Day present this year, audible in rare moments of ambient silence or when my hand strays near my ear, going tick-tick-tick-tick like the pattering heart of a pet mouse held loosely in my hand.

The standard explanation for the attractiveness of this old stuff is simply that They Made It Better In The Old Days. But this isn't necessarily or even usually true. Some of my favorite old technologies are as poorly made as today's throwaway products from China's Pearl River Delta sweatshops.

Take that piano roll, for example: a flimsy entertainment, hardly made to be appreciated as an artifact in itself. And those rattling machine-gun teletypes and caterpillar-feed printers -- they have all the elegance of a plastic cap gun that falls apart after the first roll of caps has run through it.

Memento Mori


How Goldman Sachs created the food crisis

How Goldman Sachs created the food crisis: "Frederick Kaufman's piece for Foreign Policy examines how the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) is responsible for the increase in food prices.

[T]he boom in new speculative opportunities in global grain, edible oil, and livestock markets has created a vicious cycle. The more the price of food commodities increases, the more money pours into the sector, and the higher prices rise. Indeed, from 2003 to 2008, the volume of index fund speculation increased by 1,900 percent. 'What we are experiencing is a demand shock coming from a new category of participant in the commodities futures markets,' hedge fund Michael Masters testified before Congress in the midst of the 2008 food crisis.

The result of Wall Street's venture into grain and feed and livestock has been a shock to the global food production and delivery system. Not only does the world's food supply have to contend with constricted supply and increased demand for real grain, but investment bankers have engineered an artificial upward pull on the price of grain futures. The result: Imaginary wheat dominates the price of real wheat, as speculators (traditionally one-fifth of the market) now outnumber bona-fide hedgers four-to-one.

Today, bankers and traders sit at the top of the food chain -- the carnivores of the system, devouring everyone and everything below. Near the bottom toils the farmer. For him, the rising price of grain should have been a windfall, but speculation has also created spikes in everything the farmer must buy to grow his grain -- from seed to fertilizer to diesel fuel. At the very bottom lies the consumer. The average American, who spends roughly 8 to 12 percent of her weekly paycheck on food, did not immediately feel the crunch of rising costs. But for the roughly 2-billion people across the world who spend more than 50 percent of their income on food, the effects have been staggering: 250 million people joined the ranks of the hungry in 2008, bringing the total of the world's 'food insecure' to a peak of 1 billion -- a number never seen before.

At least the Goldman Sachs vampires have plenty of money to buy guns to shoot starving peasants who will be trying to steal heirloom tomatoes from their manor gardens.

Don't blame American appetites, rising oil prices, or genetically modified crops for rising food prices. Wall Street's at fault for the spiraling cost of food.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pinhole cameras made out of hollow eggs

Pinhole cameras made out of hollow eggs: "

Francesco Capponi made these beautiful pinhole cameras out of blown eggs, shooting eerie negative photos that could only been seen by destroying the camera:

Take the egg and drill it with a rotary tool (I used a Dremel) in order to obtain a square hole (2cm). At this point, usually, you will find yourself covered in egg juice. Before washing yourself be sure that the egg' shell is empty. Wash yourself and the interior of the egg. In a dark room paint the interior of the shell with the emulsion, in order to make it light-sensitive.

Now block the opening with a wrought-brass pin-holed plate, trying to restore the natural egg-ness of the shell. With the black tape seal the structure. You'll notice that the shell is really transparent: to avoid any problem, wrap it with the black cloth, carefully leaving out the pinhole. During each stage of this process the egg could break. Usually it does.

The Pinhegg - My Journey To Build An Egg Pinhole Camera

(via Make)


Killer boys' fashions from the 1970s

Killer boys' fashions from the 1970s: "

These matching boys' belt/trouser/vest/shirt sets are pretty badass, especially that orange stripey one that looks like it came out of a bizarro-world Paul Smith showroom. I'm pretty sure there's a Sears portrait of me wearing the checked one in 1976 or so.

Oh, to be size 3 to 7 again!

(via Neatorama)


The Chronotune: Detroit hackerspace builds "time travel radio project"

The Chronotune: Detroit hackerspace builds "time travel radio project": "

[Video Link]

Members of the i3Detroit hackerspace in Detroit, MI have created 'the Chronotune,' which allows you to 'dial into a year in the past, present or future to hear the sounds of the year.' Radio shows, music and other media. 'The entire build is custom and run off an arduino,' says BB reader Nick Britsky.


Boom! And a Bear Comes Out

Boom! And a Bear Comes Out: "

I wrote a song! It has been running through my mind for a long time, and I finally said “You know what? It is time to FINISH THIS. Time to lay it down. Time to make it the PARTY HIT OF THE SUMMER.”

Boom! And a Bear Comes Out from David Malki ! on Vimeo.

(Download the MP3)

I hope you like it!

If you also have a nagging “cool thing” that you need an excuse to finish, why not submit something to the Machine of Death Talent Show? We’ve pushed back the submission deadline to April 20, and we will accept video performances from remote participants (although if you’re in the Los Angeles area, we’d love to physically put you on the stage)!

More info here. If you can’t submit something, we hope you’ll at least watch the show on the evening of April 26, either live in Los Angeles or livestreamed at Here’s the Facebook event!

I will tease you with this as well: everyone who’s able to attend the show in person will go home with a very special item that we’ll be unveiling the evening of.

Admission will be free, so if you can’t make it, send your Los Angeleno friends!


#719; The Background Check

#719; The Background Check: "

i.e. your grandfather is WAY COOLER than me, and I like spending time with him!


Monday, April 25, 2011

Rules for golfing during the blitz

Rules for golfing during the blitz: "
This sign was purportedly posted in 1940 in a north country British country club, regarding the special rules of play for bombed-out golf greens.

Stiff Upper Lip

(via Neatorama)