A goal tracker that fines you for failure to achieve, and other links

Friday, 25 September, 2015

Working at a motel in a small town can be tedious sometimes, especially if you’re a teenager. How to liven things up then? Spy on the guests, of course. That’s what happens in Blood Pulls A Gun, the latest short film from Sydney based film director Ben Briand. Via Hypnophant.

How many ways are there to tie shoelaces? Two? Four? Seven? At least eighteen, according to Ian Fieggen, who also includes instructions as to how to tie each and every one. Check out the special purpose knots for occasions such as Halloween.

It’s best things like this do not go unquestioned… the holes at the centre of donuts, or doughnuts, have been shrinking, or at least are far smaller than they once used to be. Now why would that be? Vox is on the case though:

Smithsonian’s history of the donut provides a comprehensive look at the food, and from it we can draw a few guesses about why donut holes shrank. Donut holes are shrouded in legend, but they probably exist to help fry the donut more evenly – without a hole, the center of the donut would end up more raw than the outside.

The problem with conventional “strong” passwords, that should include letters, numbers, uppercase and special characters, is the difficulty in remembering them. The people at xkcd have a better idea for devising secure passwords, that are also a lot easier to remember, in that they adopt what I call a story format. The thing is, how many systems will actually allow their use?

Photo by Agne Gintalaite

Lithuanian artist and photographer Agne Gintalaite doesn’t just see a garage door, she sees but part of a colour palette, and went about photographing, from what I can gather, two hundred doors, for a series called Beauty Remains. See more images here.

The speed of light is the ultimate speed limit of the universe, at least as far as we understand the cosmos at present. In a vacuum, light moves at 299,792.458 kilometres per second. That’s pretty swift. But why does light move at that particular speed? Why not faster, why not slower? That, as it happens, is a very good question…

A further breakthrough came in 1905, when Albert Einstein showed that c, the speed of light through a vacuum, is the universal speed limit. According to his special theory of relativity, nothing can move faster. So, thanks to Maxwell and Einstein, we know that the speed of light is connected with a number of other (on the face of it, quite distinct) phenomena in surprising ways. But neither theory fully explains what determines that speed. What might? According to new research, the secret of c can be found in the nature of empty space.

Anthophobia is a morbid dislike, or fear of flowers. Buy why would anyone be afraid of flowers? Well, if they were ever to rise up, and attempt to subdue us, then there might be something to worry about, an idea that is explored by Valentin Petit, in a short film titled Anthophobia.

Follow these seven simple steps and you too may have a creative breakthrough. Actually the process may not be quite that straightforward, but hopefully it will help set you along the path towards whatever goal you are seeking.

And on the subject of creative breakthroughs and achieving goals, being focused, and having sort of accountability mechanism is vital. For assistance in that regard, look no further than Go Fucking Do It, which allows you to submit a task or goal, a deadline, and then a monetary fine, if you fail to achieve what you set out to do. How does that sound?

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How fast is the speed of light, and other assorted links

Friday, 18 September, 2015

If you have a lazy forty-five minutes then check out this animation portraying the journey of a photon of light from the Sun, its origin point, out to the orbit of Jupiter, by Alphonse Swinehart. Forty-five minutes, that’s how long it takes, travelling at the speed of light.

Light speed may be the fastest at which any object can travel in the universe, but it doesn’t seem the least bit speedy here. Until you appreciate the distances being covered, and see how quickly the planets whip by as you move outwards passed them.

Sarcasm, “the lowest form of wit but the highest form of intelligence”, to quote Oscar Wilde… used at the right time, in the right measure, it can be quite effective:

Sarcasm has many uses, depending on the degree of sharpness. The most common is to allow someone to show a negative emotion but soften the blow with humor. “You can express anger but do it in a socially acceptable way,” says Roger Kreuz, a professor of psychology at the University of Memphis.

Introvert Freelance is a series of humorous comics by French freelance designer and illustrator Sow Ay, that explores the life of, you guessed it, an introvert freelance worker. Can’t this client just email me? Indeed…

Art installation by Jakub Hadrava

Keen to raise funds to go towards restoring their dilapidated medieval-era church in the Czech village of Lukova, residents turned to Czech artist Jakub Hadrava, in the hope he could find a way to entice more visitors to the area.

Hadrava promptly set about creating an installation made up of shrouded, ghost like figures, to occupy the church’s pews, an idea equal parts creepy, intriguing, and successful, judging by the influx of tourists to the church in recent times.

Ten percent of children aged between three and six display psychopathic traits, according to UNSW researcher Eva Kimonis, who is part of an international team that developed a diagnostic tool to help identify such children.

More than 200 children aged between three and six took part in the study, which found that 10 per cent showed callous and unemotional traits such as lacking remorse or empathy for the feelings of other people.

It is hoped that the tool will aid in picking out, and treating, children who may be at risk of engaging in criminal behaviour later in life.

Uncertainty… that unnerving feeling of not quite knowing what’s going to happen next. Is this something you thrive on, or does it keep you awake at night?

Research, or finding out what we can about an unknown situation, might help, but such fact finding is not always useful, as no two occurrences are necessarily the same. What is it they say? The only certainty is uncertainty…

Research may help reduce uncertainty, but it can never provide certainty. Research is an errorful process that peers into an obscure reality. Determining what is true is plagued by the problem of induction, which was recognised in antiquity by Pyrrhonian sceptic Sextus Empiricus. As British philosopher David Hume explains, it is a mistake to infer “that instances of which we have had no experience resemble those of which we have had experience”.

There’s no excuse to not use emojis now, following the recent addition of a middle finger, or flip it, emoji character. Do you think it will prove popular?

At last, a camera that will help us to take photos that are a little more unique… Camera Restricta, by way of several algorithms, powered by GPS and geo-tagging technologies, will determine how many other photos have been snapped at the same location in the past.

If a certain number of pictures have already been taken, the camera’s shutter will close up. Now it is that a smart-camera, or what?

It’s a hoary old chestnut isn’t it? The nation that McDonald’s restaurants have secret menus, and alternative dishes, that can be ordered only on request. Customers and staff were discussing the topic at a store I stopped at once on the Central Coast, with the conclusion being there was no such thing.

That doesn’t appear to be the opinion of head office though, who are quoted as saying that their restaurants do have “off-menu creations”. Seemingly you have to ask repeatedly though. Would you be up for that?

You heard right: McDonald’s has a selection of off-menu creations that don’t appear on our menu, but are available to anyone who asks. And we’re not talking a McGangbang or any other spurious and, frankly, offensive do-it-yourself creations that have been circulated on the Internet in recent years. There is a legitimate secret menu, scrawled on the back of a placemat by Ray Kroc himself in the late 1950s, that has remained buried under a missile silo in southern Illinois – until today!

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One hundred thousand white balloons and other links

Friday, 11 September, 2015

Here’s a selection of links I’ve looked at over the last week or two, that I haven’t incorporated into other write-ups here, since I’m doing things a little differently now.

One hundred thousand, an incredible number, of white balloons form Heartbeat, a cumulus cloud like installation, created by French artist and photographer Charles Pétillion, that is on show in London’s Covent Garden, until 27 September.

You can’t begin a sentence with a conjunction (I do it here all the time), and other grammar myths debunked, by Harvard linguist Steven Pinker:

Teachers instruct young students that it is incorrect to begin a sentence with a conjunction (and, because, but, or, so, also) because it helps keep them from writing in fragments, Pinker writes, but it’s a lie that adults don’t need to follow. Avoid writing an ugly “megasentence” full of connected independent clauses, and feel free to start a sentence with a conjunction.

New York City based photographer Aaron Pegg recently gathered this impressive collection of photos of empty London Underground stations. Sights like are sometimes to be seen when travelling on the system late in the evening. It can feel tad spooky.

The flyby of Pluto by NASA’s New Horizons space probe on 14 July seems a long time ago now, doesn’t it? So here’s an animation of the craft’s closet approach to the dwarf planet. Amazing. And don’t forget that data from the probe’s flyby will take over a year to finally reach us, so there’s still a lot to come yet.

The Joker, archvillain, and Batman’s nemesis right? Not according to one fan theory, that contends he was a force for good in Gotham City:

Before the Joker, Gotham was a mess. Entire sections of the city were closed off due to madness, organized crime ran rampant, and the majority of important city officials were wildly corrupt. The city even tolerated a renegade vigilante who ran around wearing a rubber suit (Okay, special armor and carbon fiber, but they don’t know that). Along comes the Joker and by the end of a very short time, almost all organized crime was eliminated, many corrupt officials were imprisoned or dead, and the city’s Vigilante even went into hiding for 8 years.

Photo by Christopher Herwig

Christopher Herwig took a road trip through countries that once made up the former Soviet Union, and, going by some of the photos he took, you’d be forgiven for thinking that no two USSR-era bus shelters were alike. Many more such images will feature in a book he has published on the subject.

I don’t know how many times I’ve watched 2001: A Space Odyssey now, but still I cannot make sense of the layout, or interior design of USS Discovery, the Jupiter bound spacecraft. How on earth did all those compartments and chambers all fit in with each other? Mystery solved, thanks to New Scientist, and a cut-away style painting by Oliver Rennert, of Discovery’s habitation sphere, that reveals all.

A 3.2-gigapixel digital camera, that will be the world’s largest once it is constructed, will reveal all sorts of detail of the night sky and the universe, when it becomes operational in about seven years. Apparently though 1500 high definition TV screens will be needed to view but one of its ultra high resolution images.

Bland, boring, urban design… does it really have an impact on our well being? Apparently so…

Behavioural effects of city street design have been reported before. In 2006, the Danish urbanist Jan Gehl observed that people walk more quickly in front of blank facades; compared with an open, active facade, people are less likely to pause or even turn their heads in such locations. They simply bear down and try to get through the unpleasant monotony of the street until they emerge on the other side, hopefully to find something more interesting.

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A cup of coffee that’s truly out there

Friday, 4 September, 2015

Artwork by Victoria Seimer

I couldn’t not mention the artwork of Victoria Seimer for a second time, after spotting this series of works, featuring coffee cups infused with scenes of oceans and the cosmos.

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Out of the frying pan and into Europa

Wednesday, 2 September, 2015

Photo by NASA

Which one’s the volatile, volcanic, planetary satellite, in other words Jupiter’s moon Europa, and which are photos of… frying pans. You have until nine o’clock to figure this out.

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The travel photography of Anuar Patjane

Tuesday, 1 September, 2015

Having travelled from Antarctica to Zanzibar, and a whole lot of places in between, the question has to be asked, where has Mexican photographer Anuar Patjane not been? Whatever, he has taken some incredible photos of his journeys to date though.

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Fun parks, more fun after they’ve closed for the day?

Monday, 31 August, 2015

Photo by Stefano Cerio

Visiting Dismal Land, the new “fun park” opened recently by UK street artist Banksy, in the south west of England, is something I wouldn’t mind doing.

But going along to these amusement parks in Hong Kong and China, after hours, when no one at all was there, as Stefano Cerio, a photographer who is based in both Paris and Rome, did recently, also has a certain allure.

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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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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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Kurt Arrigo’s European travel Instagrams

Friday, 21 August, 2015

Photo by Kurt Arrigo

Travel has been a theme here this week, not that I’m going too far at the moment, or anything. That’s not the case for Malta based photographer Kurt Arrigo though, who spends an enviable amount of time trekking across Europe, and taking amazing photos in the process.

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