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Friday, March 16, 2012

Drone Porn

[Hmm. Truncated from a Warren Ellis post. -egg]

In an epic speculative post about commercial home-mapping services, Jan Chipchase drops this lovely idea bomb:
After seeing the nano-quadcopter presentation at TED 2012 – including this, but with a lot more background, insights into their capabilities, and a video of a quadcopter entering and mapping a building in real time – technically impressive stuff. First responders. Military. Pornographers. Research. Retail. This changes many things.

Destination Art

Destination Art:
Some of the best art is a destination; you must travel to it. This lavish guide book is chock full of art that can only be experienced in place, beyond four walls. Some of this destination art is monumental, some architectural, some is art rooted in the physical landscape, some is found in open air art parks. There is a refreshing mix of choices from around the world, each of which is worth making a trip to see. Like the previously reviewed Geek Atlas, having a specific unusual destination can enhance ordinary travel.

-- KK

-- KK

Destination Art

Amy Dempsey

2010, 272 pages


Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:
destination art 1.jpeg

As you approach Le Palai Ideal, near the rural village of Hauterives in France, the stunning moss-covered, highly ornamented and intricately carved palace emerges from the ferns and trees surrounding it.


destination art 2.jpeg

Spiral Jetty in Great Salt Lake in Utah has been covered with water for most of its existence. It recently re-emerged to reveal its new brilliant, salt-encrusted state, as seen in this photograph, taken in 2004.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The American economy: Unmired at last | The Economist

The beautiful surface of the Sun

[Ooooooohh. -egg]
The beautiful surface of the Sun:

Phil Plait linked to this amazing photo of the Sun on the Bad Astronomy blog today. It's incredible. Like nothing I've ever seen before. The photographer is Alan Friedman. Plait explains how Friedman got this look, which is a very nice reminder that space photography is seldom really about "point and click".
Alan uses an Hα filter, which cuts out almost all the light from the Sun except for a narrow slice of color emitted by warm hydrogen. This reduces the glare hugely, and reveals delicate structures in the Sun’s plasma. He then inverts the image, so bright things appear dark, and vice-versa. That’s an old astronomer’s trick that makes fainter things easier to see.
Like this close-up? Go to the Bad Astronomy blog to see Alan Friedman's photo of the full Sun. Your mind will be blown. I promise.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

America's 55-hour work weeks ruin workers' lives and don't produce extra value for employers

[Important. -egg]
America's 55-hour work weeks ruin workers' lives and don't produce extra value for employers:

Sara Robinson's written an excellent piece on the productivity losses associated with extra-long work-weeks, something that has been established management theory since the time of Ford, but which few employers embrace today. Americans are working longer hours than they have in decades, sacrificing their health, happiness and family lives, and all the data suggests that those extra hours are wasted -- resulting in hourly productivity losses that offsets the additional hours worked. Everybody loses.
It’s a heresy now (good luck convincing your boss of what I’m about to say), but every hour you work over 40 hours a week is making you less effective and productive over both the short and the long haul. And it may sound weird, but it’s true: the single easiest, fastest thing your company can do to boost its output and profits — starting right now, today — is to get everybody off the 55-hour-a-week treadmill, and back onto a 40-hour footing...
By 1914, emboldened by a dozen years of in-house research, Henry Ford famously took the radical step of doubling his workers’ pay, and cut shifts in Ford plants from nine hours to eight. The National Association of Manufacturers criticized him bitterly for this — though many of his competitors climbed on board in the next few years when they saw how Ford’s business boomed as a result. In 1937, the 40-hour week was enshrined nationwide as part of the New Deal. By that point, there were a solid five decades of industrial research that proved, beyond a doubt, that if you wanted to keep your workers bright, healthy, productive, safe and efficient over a sustained stretch of time, you kept them to no more than 40 hours a week and eight hours a day.
Evan Robinson, a software engineer with a long interest in programmer productivity (full disclosure: our shared last name is not a coincidence) summarized this history in a white paper he wrote for the International Game Developers’ Association in 2005. The original paper contains a wealth of links to studies conducted by businesses, universities, industry associations and the military that supported early-20th-century leaders as they embraced the short week. “Throughout the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, these studies were apparently conducted by the hundreds,” writes Robinson; “and by the 1960s, the benefits of the 40-hour week were accepted almost beyond question in corporate America. In 1962, the Chamber of Commerce even published a pamphlet extolling the productivity gains of reduced hours.”
What these studies showed, over and over, was that industrial workers have eight good, reliable hours a day in them. On average, you get no more widgets out of a 10-hour day than you do out of an eight-hour day. Likewise, the overall output for the work week will be exactly the same at the end of six days as it would be after five days. So paying hourly workers to stick around once they’ve put in their weekly 40 is basically nothing more than a stupid and abusive way to burn up profits. Let ‘em go home, rest up and come back on Monday. It’s better for everybody.
Yes, you can squeeze out some extra productivity with sporadic overtime pushes in the busy season (though the returns diminish -- 80-hour weeks aren't twice as productive as 40-hour ones), but if you turn "sporadic pushes" into business as usual, you're just paying for the same work to take place over more hours while destroying your workers' lives. You may not care about the latter -- not if you've got five more applicants lined up to take the jobs of the workers who drop at their desks -- but even so, why pay more for less?
Bring back the 40-hour work week
(via Beth Pratt)
(Image: Luigi Antonini speaks with a foot-sore picketer during the Dressmakers' strike for overtime pay, as supporters look on., a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from kheelcenter's photostream)

Video: "Express Yourself" (Diplo ft. Nicky Da B)

Video: "Express Yourself" (Diplo ft. Nicky Da B):

[ Video Link. Content warning: Contains vigorous azz-shakin' ]
Via New Orleans native Clayton Cubitt, who says,

I'm gonna say this again, for those of you who yearn for the energy and danger and artistic vitality that NYC had in the 70s/80s, you need to drop everything and get yourself to New Orleans right now.
Shot in and around the Bywater in New Orleans, features friends of mine like Quack, and Rusty Lazer’s Swoon-festooned front steps and amazing art village, and local characters like Amzie Adams, this is your “must watch” of the week.

The album is available as MP3 download at Amazon.

Resin octopus

Resin octopus:

Judy Fox's "Octopus" is an awfully lovely piece -- it's repped by LA's Ace Gallery.
Octopus, 2009

Sculpted in terra cotta, cast in poly resin and painted with casein paint

Library staircase delightfully transformed into live interactive game board

Library staircase delightfully transformed into live interactive game board:

Four flights of seventy-two stairs were transformed into a giant game board using 1,200 feet of wire and 48 Internet-connected tin cans decorated with green and gold helium balloons at DIY: Physical Computing at Play. These were our targets.
The customized game was conceived after we invited designers and web developers Michael J. Newman and Scott Hutchinson to Kennedy Library at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, to present at Science Café, an ongoing community series. They made a couple of drives up from L.A. to find inspiration and check out our Brutalist building. The two saw our dramatic stretch of concrete stairs and knew they’d found their game board.
At the event, participants built and tested simple circuits then rigged our staircase using the wire, cans and balloons. Then we aimed and threw tennis balls down the stairs, hoping to knock over the cans, which acted as live switches on foil tape.
Cans were attached to a breakout box by 25’ wires, and a live site updated the score whenever a can from either the green or gold team was knocked over. Working with the library’s IT group, the site was shared on digital displays throughout the building as well as on participants’ mobile devices. Cal Poly linked to the scoring site from the university’s home page.
Green: 19

Gold: 17
Partnering with on and off campus collaborators since 2009, Cal Poly Science Café has offered experts who tell stories, give demos and invite people to play hands-on. Inspired by the international Science Café movement, which is often held at a café or pub, our events are offered in the heart of an open, accessible and collaborative area at Kennedy Library. It’s where a current English major and a retired community member can work together on a customized computer science experiment that becomes an interactive art installation. Everyone is invited and it’s always free.
Watch an interview with Newman and Hutchinson about their thinking and the details of the back-end. Go to Cal Poly Science Café for source files and more info.
— Karen Lauritsen, Robert E. Kennedy Library

Wild skyscraper designs awarded

Wild skyscraper designs awarded:

Zhi Zheng, Hongchuan Zhao and Dongbai Song from China won Evolo magazine's 2012 Skyscraper design competition. My favorite, however, is the runner-up (above) which crawls up the side of the Yunnan mountains. Designed by Yiteng Shen, Nanjue Wang, Ji Xia and Zihan Wang, it has the advantage of being neither outrageously science fictional nor horrible: consider the third place winner, a concept design for kilometer-high landfill silos.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Reverence for Wood

Reverence for Wood:
Wood was the plastic of the previous era. Better than plastic today it could be found for free, and re-grew itself. This thin beautiful book is a quick orientation to the merits and features of wood. It begins with trees and ends in tools and materials. Should you appreciate the old-timey ways of working with wood, and how these skills shaped early America, as author and artist Eric Sloane does, his sketches will suggest many ways to use and reconsider wood today.

-- KK

A Reverence for Wood

Eric Sloane

2004 (1965), 112 pages


Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:






Charcoal during the 1800's was used for many things other than making iron. People cleaned their teeth with it. Although the first results may look ghastly, there is actually nothing more beneficial for teeth than charcoal powder. Swallow some of it? Also good; there is nothing better for upset stomach. It even sweetens the breath. If you want to purify water or remove an offensive odor from anything, use charcoal. Sailors used to throw burnt muffins into their water supply when it became stale or smelly; meat packers used to pack their meats in charcoal. Ice was stored in charcoal, gunpowder was made with it; printer's ink, black paint, medicines even highways were made form it. In 1865 someone dreamed up this idea, thinking that since charcoal is the longest lasting of materials, a road made of it would be very durable. Timber was piled along the middle of the road and burned right here; then the charred material was raked out and tamped down.



Monday, March 12, 2012

On knitting 50 life-sized bees

On knitting 50 life-sized bees:

Hannah Haworth found herself in the enviable position of having to knit 50 life-sized bees, which she did, and celebrated their completion with detailed notes and lovely photos.

Remember when I mentioned that I had to knit 50 life size bees? Well I finally finished them!! woop woop! I may have gotten a little obsessive with the detail, but I kinda always do. It was weird for me doing such a small scale project after the huge pieces Im used to making, but I enjoyed it a lot, I think I learned quite a bit from it.

These bees are made form 100% baby merino wool from Malabrigo. I especially love the way they dye their colours, they are pretty much iridescent

Making the bees was certainly a process. I began by knitting the body from the back to the head, then I picked up stitches to make the wings which I used a simple lace stitch pattern for.


(via Making Light)

Miu Miu: what if Cirque de Soleil designed all the business attire?

Miu Miu Fall / Winter 2012: