A train that runs on an infinite loop?

Wednesday, 26 August, 2015

Quite the feat of small scale engineering here, a spiralling track loop for a model train, that precisely accommodates every locomotive and carriage running on it… so where does the train begin, and where does it end?

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Chastity belts, all the product of someone’s imagination?

Wednesday, 26 August, 2015

We’ve all heard about chastity belts, those lockable metallic items of underwear that soldiers of medieval times were said to secure to their wives in the name of preventing infidelity, while they were absent, possibly for years, on a crusade or the like. The problem is, has anyone actually ever seen such a… garment?

“As a medievalist, one day I thought: I cannot stand this anymore,” says Albrecht Classen, a professor in the University of Arizona’s German Studies department. He set out to reveal the true history of chastity belts. “It’s a concise enough research topic that I could cover everything that was ever written about it,” he says, “and in one swoop destroy this myth.” Here is the truth: Chastity belts, made of metal and used to ensure female fidelity, never really existed.

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There’s milkshakes, then there’s extreme milkshakes

Tuesday, 25 August, 2015

Photo by Alana Dimou

I hate to complain about the cafes in Sydney, but I’ve had the trend of preserve jars as drinking glasses, up to my eyeballs. This, I think, calls for one of Sydney photographer, and food blogger, Alana Dimou’s extreme milkshakes:

And the Oreos, my god the Oreos, they’re everywhere, and everyone’s got one, and everyone’s holding one of these extreme milkshakes, gnashing at food for the sake of social media, exchanging calories for notifications, it’s 8 o’clock in the morning and everybody’s drinking them to avoid the hour long lines from the brunching hour onwards to attain the Thing. The cult. The cult of Extreme Milkshakes. It’s here and we’re all trapped in a vortex of milk and Nutella and garnishes the moment we open Instagram.

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Are phone calls, as in voice calls, in decline? I’m not so sure of that

Tuesday, 25 August, 2015

Has telephone usage, that is, the making of voice calls, declined because there are other communication channels available, texting, email, social media, or is it because the design, or nature, of the smartphones we use today, are less conducive to the task?

But when it comes to taking phone calls and not making them, nobody seems to have admitted that using the telephone today is a different material experience than it was 20 or 30 (or 50) years ago, not just a different social experience. That’s not just because our phones have also become fancy two-way pagers with keyboards, but also because they’ve become much crappier phones. It’s no wonder that a bad version of telephony would be far less desirable than a good one. And the telephone used to be truly great, partly because of the situation of its use, and partly because of the nature of the apparatus we used to refer to as the “telephone” – especially the handset.

It could just be the places I go, but I see no shortage of people, if they’re not staring semi-mesmerised at the screen of their device, making voice calls… and letting anyone within earshot know that as well.

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Are morning people really firmly in control of their day?

Tuesday, 25 August, 2015

Are you someone who rises at four or five in the morning? Then that makes you a morning person. I can’t say that of myself though, given I start the working day at around nine o’clock.

True morning people, however, have been at other activities, such as workouts and runs, since far earlier in the day, exertions I prefer to leave for later on. If you’re like me in this regard, then you may not be productive, or as “firmly in control of each day”, as you could be. I wonder.

Waking up early gives you time to think before the buzz of the day begins. To put it simply, the early morning is “you time” a time to lay out your priorities for the day and make progress against them, before others are demanding your time and attention. It puts you firmly in control of each day.

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You can listen to Earth’s own symphony, if you know how to listen in

Tuesday, 25 August, 2015

Even on the quietest of days, the Earth is not so quiet. Tune in on the right frequency, and listen carefully, and you just might hear the otherwise inaudible sounds of the planet for yourself.

The noises he was hunting were first discovered in the early days of radio. Soldiers on field telephones at the front lines of World War I would say that, some days, you could really hear the grenades fly – the staccato pops and falling whistles coming through the wire sounded like enemy fire. Their true source, however, was long an object of conjecture. Newspapers, for instance, touted them as extraterrestrial voices.

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The difference between a bee and a wasp? It’s vast…

Monday, 24 August, 2015

Sherlock Holmes, who spent his retirement years as a bee keeper, knew the difference between a bee and a wasp, and said as much at the beginning of Bill Condon’s latest feature, Mr Holmes.

Unfortunately he didn’t elaborate much, but one distinction between the two sometimes quite similar looking creatures, aside from the fact that one isn’t as quite as nice as the other, comes down to what each species feeds their larvae.

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How to ruin your life in a few simple steps, or not

Monday, 24 August, 2015

How to ruin your life, without even noticing that you are, by Bianca Sparacino. Thought provoking. There really ought to be a lessons-in-life course as part of the high school curriculum, and these sorts of considerations need to be part of it:

You ruin your life when you compare yourself to others. The amount of Instagram followers you have does not decrease or increase your value. The amount of money in your bank account will not influence your compassion, your intelligence, or your happiness. The person who has two times more possessions than you does not have double the bliss, or double the merit.

(Thanks Jessica)

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Floor patterns, an often overlooked art-form

Monday, 24 August, 2015

Photo by Sebastian Erras

Most of us are probably too preoccupied, while walking over a tiled floor, to pay much attention to their sometimes intricate, and ornate, design. German photographer Sebastian Erras, however, is on the case, posting as many patterned floors as he can find, to Parisian floors.

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Could you imagine feeling no emotion at all?

Monday, 24 August, 2015

Imagine not being able to feel, or experience, any emotion, good or bad, whatsoever. Or perceive the emotions of others. That’s alexithymia for you, a condition said to be present in ten percent of the population.

In fact, Caleb claims not to feel almost any emotions – good, or bad. I meet him through an internet forum for people with “alexithymia” – a kind of emotional “colour-blindness” that prevents them from perceiving or expressing the many shades of feeling that normally embellish our lives. The condition is found in around 50% of people with autism, but many “alexes” (as they call themselves) such as Cal­­­eb do not show any other autistic traits such as compulsive or repetitive behaviour.

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