Short Film: Eugene

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Created as a part of the Four Stories competition held by Intel and W Hotels, Eugene is the darkly comedic tale of a man granted the power to make wishes come true when he mysteriously receives a laptop delivered to his hotel room.

Updating the genie-in-a-bottle plot-line by transforming its wish-granter into a much more contemporary container – a laptop – Eugene plays the anything-is-possible card closely to its chest by granting this power to its shy and awkward protagonist.

Always read the fine print. Just saying.

Directed by Spencer Susser. Acted in by Michael Govier and Karolina Wydra.
Via Short of the Week.

Haiti’s Anti-Zombie Law

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In English, the provision reads:

  • Is considered a poisoning any attempt on the life of a person through the use of substances which can cause death more or less cleanly, regardless of the manner in which these substances were used or administered, and regardless of the consequences.
  • Is also considered attempt on life by poisoning the use made against a person of substances which, without giving death, will cause a more-or-less prolonged state of lethargy, regardless of the manner in which these substances were used and regardless of the consequences.
  • If the person was buried as a consequence of this state of lethargy, the attempt will be considered a murder.

Article 246 originally defined just the simple crime of “poisoning.”

It wasn’t until 1864 that the provision was expanded to include the second and third paragraphs, containing the language about “the use made against a person of substances which, without giving death, will cause a more-or-less prolonged state of lethargy” and burial thereafter.

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Top image by Haitian painter Wilson Bigaud in 1939.
By Mark Strauss via io9 for the full article. Worth a look.

Super Flemish

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What if Superman was born in the sixteenth century?
And what if the Hulk was a Duke?
How might Van Eyck have portrayed Snow White?

Sacha wants to confront these icons of American culture with contemporary painters of the Flemish school. The collection demonstrates the use of 17 century techniques counterpointing light and shadow to illustrate nobility and fragility of the super powerful of all times.

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I am absolutely positive I am not the only person who immediately thought of Marvel 1602

By Sacha Goldberger for the full awesome set.

The Death Metal Band Hatebeak With A Parrot As Lead Vocalist

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Hatebeak was a death metal band, formed by Blake Harrison, Mark Sloan, and Waldo, a 21-year-old Congo African Grey Parrot.

Their sound has been described as “a jackhammer being ground in a compactor”.[4] Aquarius Records magazine called Hatebeak “furious and blasting death metal”.

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With such singles as “Bird Seeds of Vengeance” and “The Thing That Should Not Beak”, how did this band ever fail to go platinum?

Via Wikipedia.

One Million Beads and the World’s Largest Wedding Dress

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This completely fabric-free masterpiece was hand-beaded in the United States and Mexico. It took twenty-one women over two years to complete. “Fantasy” was made with beads from United States, Japan, Austria, China, Czech Republic, and over 7 miles of beading wire.

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Still in progress, and at over 38 pounds (17.2 kg) in weight, I hope the woman wearing this has some help carrying her train. Just saying.

By and via Gail Be.

Chipotle’s Mayan Glyphs and the Temple of Burritos

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A while back, I bought Andrea Stone & Marc Zender’s Reading Maya Art: A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Maya Painting and Sculpture, and checked out a number of similar books from the library. I skimmed and enjoyed them, and then returned them.

I went to a Chipotle in Philadelphia, looked at the wall, and realized their design was more than just decoration. There, looking back at me, was K’awiil, also known as God K.

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Next to K’awiil was a glyph representing a lord, possibily Juun Ajaw, one of the Hero Twins. All over the wall was seeing bits and pieces of legible, decipherable Classic era Mayan art. Here, the glyph for mountain. There, a shark.

[T]he wood and metal sculptures at many (or maybe all) Chipotle locations were provided by a company named Mayatek Inc.

The short story is, there are deviations, but the art is surprisingly accurate (for a restaurant) on a number of the glyphs (albeit, most are picked at random rather than for their original significance or lexical meaning). Or at least spitting distance. Though that seems kind of rude to do at a burrito place.

So…what does the above section of Mayan glyphs actually say? Dr. Zender translated the glyph blocks from Chipotle:

u-K’AM-ma-K’AJAN?-ch’o-ko
uk’amk’ajan ch’ok
“the youth’s rope-taking” (a ceremony)

u-TZ’AK-AJ
utz’akaj
“its count” (calendric information)

WAX-YAX-SIHOOM-ma
“6 Yax” (part of a date)

chu-lu-ku-?
Chuluk … (pre-accession name of the king)

i-K’A’-yi
i k’a’ayi
“his … stopped” (a death verb, here referring to the king’s father)

TIWOL?-4-ma-ta
Tiwohl Chan Mat (the father of the king)

mu-ka-ja
muhkaj “he was buried” (again referring to the father)

u?-na-ta-la
u naahtal “the first”? (ordinal title?)

MO’-na-bi
… Mo’ Nahb (part of the name of the king)

Brings back memories of my college study of Classical Aztec (Nahuatl) in Chicago…

By Language Jones via Slate for the full awesome story and more photos of the art.

Zombie Holiday Ornaments

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It’s that time of year again. Time to decorate the undead holiday tree with this Zombie Ornament Set.

There’s an undead elf, ready to nip at your nose a bit more than Jack Frost; a reindeer, with a horrible hunger for your flesh; a snowman, covered in the frozen blood of his victims; and Santa, waiting to give you a present, before ripping out your spleen. Each one is coated in blood and gore, which will make your holiday tree more festive.

Via ThinkGeek. And yep, available for purchase there.

Ruled Notebook 3D Illustration

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Brazilian artist João Carvalho may be only 15 years old, but the young artist can completely transform plain paper into ruled notebook sheets with 3D illusions popping out of them.

He starts by drawing blue lines on a blank sheet, but distorts them and adds intense shadows at just the right places, adding depth to his designs and creating the effect of three dimensional shapes that seem to jump off the page.

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Whenever I see this style of illustration I always wish I could turn the pictures so my brain could better process the illusion.

By João Carvalho via Oddity Central.

The Color of the Carrot

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Researchers with the Agricultural Research Service may have found the best way to entice consumers to eat their veggies: Surprise them.

They’re breeding carrots that come in a palette of totally unexpected colors including yellow, dark orange, bright red–even purple.

Ironic, since carrots didn’t start out orange, but were originally purple. As Wikipedia notes: “The plant appears to have been introduced into Europe via Spain by the Moors in the 8th century. and in the 10th century, in such locations in the Middle East, India and Europe, the roots were purple.”

Photo by Stephen Ausmus. Courtesy of USDA / Agricultural Research Service.
Via ScienceDaily.

The Textus Roffensis: The Oldest Surviving Copy of 12th Century English Law

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“If a mouth or an eye becomes damaged, one is to compensate with 12 shillings”, exhorts the Textus Roffensis, a 12th century manuscript containing the only surviving copy of the oldest law in English.

The four front teeth, meanwhile, are worth six shillings apiece, while “if one strikes off a thumb, 20 shillings”.

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“The Textus Roffensis is truly a unique manuscript: it predates the Magna Carta by almost 100 years, contains the only copy of the oldest set of laws in English, and was penned by an English scribe within 60 years of the Norman conquest. That it is being made accessible to the public is worth shouting about, and is a tribute to all those involved with the project”, said Dr. Chris Monk.

The book, about the size of a hardback novel, features, said Monk, an excommunication curse with an obscenity, the only copy of William the Conqueror’s law of trial by combat used to settle disputes between Englishmen and Frenchmen, and a “pseudo-religious, magical charm for the recovery of stolen livestock sandwiched between a law on betrothal and a law on bequeathing property”.

Nice to know how much one’s teeth are worth. I should tell my dentist she’s been totally overcharging me. Hopefully she doesn’t do the math and adjust for inflation.

By some legal guys and monks in the 12th century, available digitally at John Rylands University Library Image Collections via The Guardian for the full article.

The Russian Cosmonaut Machete-Gun

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For decades, every Soyuz rocket crew packed a sidearm in their emergency kits—even after joining the International Space Station partnership. This “survival gun”, the TOZ 82, had three barrels and a swing-out machete.

[T]he official purpose of the gun — which could fire rifle bullets, shotgun shells and flares — was for survival in a harsh environment, such as the Siberian wilderness, in the event of an off-course landing.

But according to journalist James Oberg, one of the leading U.S. experts on the Russian space program: “I proposed that to guarantee the gun only be usable in an off-course landing, it be stashed in compartment accessible only from outside the Soyuz, after landing. There never was any response to my helpful suggestions”.

The practice has been unofficially suspended; by “unofficially” I mean that the weapn is included on the inventory list, but it is then removed by vote before each individual flight.

Via io9.

The Last Menagerie

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This year marks the 100th anniversary of the last year of the last known Passenger Pigeon known as Martha.

This marker inspired The Last Menagerie, a line of plates designed to commemorate, educate, and remind ourselves about that which is lost but not forgotten.The commemorative plate is such an odd and beautiful object. As it preserves and frames a fleeting moment or event–it also gives dimensional life to a wall.

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The Last Menagerie is a collection of six commemorative plates each featuring a different extinct animal:

  • The Dodo extinct since 1662
  • Pyrenean Ibex extinct since 2000
  • The Quagga extinct since 1883
  • The Passenger Pigeon extinct since 1914
  • Black African Rhino extinct since 2000
  • The Wooly Mammoth extinct since the Pleistocene epoch

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A healthy reminder, particularly the Black Rhino and Pyrenean Ibex, extinct only within the lifetime of anyone reading this.

Nicole Antebi on her Etsy page.

Books By The Inch

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One Christmas when I decided to make a box of personalized miniature accessories for my grandparents— dollhouse hobbyists who had created beautiful dollhouses for themselves and all of their grandchildren.

I really think that the charm of a dollhouse lies in its attention to detail: the unexpected surprise of a pair of slippers by a bed, a bundle of love letters peeking out of a drawer, the birds’ nest tucked away high in the gables.

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Oh, and did I mention…this is in 1″ scale? As in, the entire thing is less than a foot across.

Mind officially blown.

The work of L. Delaney. Available for purchase en toto on Etsy. Want to make your own? She has a kit for that as well…

Four Acre Orb Weaver Spider Web

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We were unprepared for the sheer scale of the spider population and the extraordinary masses of both three dimensional and sheet-like webbing that blanketed much of the facility’s cavernous interior. Far greater in magnitude than any previously recorded aggregation of orb-weavers, the visual impact of the spectacle was nothing less than astonishing.

In places where the plant workers had swept aside the webbing to access equipment, the silk lay piled on the floor in rope-like clumps as thick as a fire hose.

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Four acres of web found in 2009 at the Baltimore Wastewater Treatment Plant consisting of 107 million orb-weaver spiders of different species.

I am sensing a Spider-Man reboot based on this…

Photos by the Entomological Society of America.
Study authors Greene, Albert; Coddington, Jonathan A.; Breisch, Nancy L.; De Roche, Dana M.; Pagac, Benedict B. in American Entomologist, Volume 56, Number 3, Fall 2010 via ingentaconnect via Huffington Post, where you can see additional photos and information.

Rome in the Renassance 1549

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From 1514 or 1515, [Sebastian] Munster deepened and broadened his knowledge of mathematical geography and cartography. In 1524 he was appointed to teach the Hebrew language at the University of Heidelberg; this appointment was ill paid, and it was evidently with no reluctance that Munster accepted an invitation to the chair of Hebrew at the university of Basel, whither he moved in 1529 [and] was to spend the rest of his life until his death from plague in 1552.

Having completed the Geographia, Munster returned to his pet project, the description of Germany. In 1544, he published the first edition of the Cosmographia, a summary both of Munster’s own geographical researches and those of his many correspondents. For the 1550 edition additions included a large number of town prospects.

The 1550 edition of the Cosmographia was the final flowering of Munster’s work.

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Supplementary photos via Wikipedia.
By Sebastian Münster in Cosmographia 1550 via Hominis Aevum.

The Bandit Balloonists of Brazil

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Growing up in São Paulo in the 1990s, explosions were often my weekend alarm clock.

The strange succession of bursts and explosions, we knew, could only mean one thing: balloons.

The alarm clocks were easy to spot: balloons carrying enormous racks full of hundreds of fireworks of all sorts. They left huge trails of smoke in the sky, continuing their pyrotechnic displays sometimes for half an hour.

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But it was not all explosions. Some balloons bore long paper banners with intricate designs ranging from abstract patterns to the likeness of musicians and celebrities, someone’s girlfriend or mother, or, on many occasions, Jesus Christ.

[T]he most beautiful were the ones that carried light panels: nets of candlelit paper lanterns in a multitude of colors, precisely arranged to form a drawing lit by fire in the night sky.

Some carried hundreds of kite-like paper gliders (released by a fuse) which would slowly flutter down all over a neighborhood.

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These balloons are big. Big enough to carry people – but they don’t.

They’re not about transportation, but rather expressions of art. Paper balloons lifted by simple torches have been a part of Brazilian culture for centuries.

In the beginning they were small, only feet high, and often launched in conjunction with festivals celebrating the holy days of various Catholic saints known as festas juninas, or “June Festivals” (remember that Brazil, being in the Southern Hemisphere, is in winter in June).

Today, they’re more secular, even involving uniformed teams all working together to make bigger, better, more dramatic balloons to show off their creators’ skill.

In the 1990s, concerns about fire danger made launching and manufacturing of these balloons as federal crimes punishable by prison time, something that is still the case today.

Authorities continue to try to stamp out the interest and passion for the great balloons, but the renegade balloonists will not be stopped…and the balloons will fly.

Via The Appendix.