Archive for July 22nd, 2011

July 22, 2011

Steampunk

steampunk by flyingdebris1

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. It involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually the Victorian era Britain—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy.

Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them; based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.

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July 22, 2011

Sexploitation

dorian gray

Sexploitation describes a class of independently produced, low budget feature films generally associated with the 1960s, and serving largely as a vehicle for the exhibition of non-explicit sexual situations and gratuitous nudity. Sexploitation films were generally exhibited in urban grindhouse theatres, the precursor to the adult movie theaters of the 1970s and ’80s that featured hardcore content. The term soft-core is often used to designate non-explicit sexploitation films after the general legalization of hardcore content.

A series of United States Supreme Court rulings in the late 50s and 60s had enabled increasingly explicit sex films to be distributed.There were initially three broad types; ‘nudie cuties’ such as ‘The Immoral Mr. Teas’ (1959), films set in nudist camps like ‘Daughter of the Sun’ (1962), and somewhat more ‘artistic’ foreign pictures such as ‘The Twilight Girls’ (1961). Nudie cuties were popular in the early 60s, and were a development from the nudist camp films of the 50s.

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July 22, 2011

The Demon-Haunted World

hail sagan

The ‘Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark’ is a book by astrophysicist Carl Sagan, which was first published in 1995. The book is intended to explain the scientific method to laypeople, and to encourage people to learn critical or skeptical thinking. It explains methods to help distinguish between ideas that are considered valid science, and ideas that can be considered pseudoscience. Sagan states that when new ideas are offered for consideration, they should be tested by means of skeptical thinking, and should stand up to rigorous questioning.

In the book, Sagan states that if a new idea continues in existence after an examination of the propositions has revealed it to be false, it should then be acknowledged as a supposition. Skeptical thinking essentially is a means to construct, understand, reason, and recognize valid and invalid arguments. Wherever possible, there must be independent validation of the concepts whose truth should be proved. He states that reason and logic would succeed once the truth is known. Conclusions emerge from premises, and the acceptability of the premises should not be discounted or accepted because of bias.

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July 22, 2011

The Clash of Civilizations

clash of civilizations

samuel huntington by david levine

The Clash of Civilizations is a theory, proposed by political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. This theory was originally formulated in a 1992 lecture at the American Enterprise Institute, which was then developed in a 1993 ‘Foreign Affairs article’ titled ‘The Clash of Civilizations?,’ in response to Francis Fukuyama’s 1992 book, ‘The End of History and the Last Man.’ Huntington later expanded his thesis in a 1996 book ‘The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.’

The phrase itself was first used by American historian, Bernard Lewis in an article in a 1990 issue of ‘The Atlantic Monthly’ titled ‘The Roots of Muslim Rage.’

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July 22, 2011

Catnip

legalize catnip by cecile appert

Nepeta [neh-puh-ta] is a genus of about 250 species of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae, commonly known as ‘catnip’ because of their attractant effect on cats—the nepetalactone contained in nepeta binds to the olfactory receptors of cats, typically resulting in temporary euphoria. Catmints are also used in herbal medicine for their mild sedative effect on humans.

Nepetalactone is an organic compound, first reported in 1941 after it was isolated by steam distillation of catnip. The compound is also present in the wood of tartarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), shavings of which are often used in cat toys. Around 80% of cats are affected and susceptibility is gene-linked. The chemical interacts as a vapor at the olfactory epithelium. Nepetalactone has effects on some insects: it repels cockroaches and mosquitoes.

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July 22, 2011

Corpsing

stefon by Glen Brogan

Corpsing is a British theatrical slang term used to describe when an actor breaks character during a scene by laughing or by causing another cast member to laugh. The term originated when a living actor played a corpse on stage; there was sometimes a temptation to try to make that actor laugh. Corpsing is not a term exclusive to the theatre, but is also used to describe actions designed to cause hysteria in live television or radio.

The ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketches featuring ‘Debbie Downer’ (Rachel Dratch) are also notable for corpsing, as well as the famous ‘Stefon’ (Bill Hader), who only went on one occasion without corpsing throughout his entire five-year stint. Jimmy Fallon is also known for breaking character by laughing.

July 22, 2011

SmartBird

smartbird

SmartBird is an autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle created by Festo’s Bionic Learning Network. It is an ornithopter modeled on the herring gull. It has a mass of 450 grams and a wingspan of 1.96 meters. Smartbird is constructed of polyurethane foam and carbon fiber and is powered by a 135 brushless motor running at 23 watts.

Flight occurs in a manner very similar to that of real birds. The vertical motion of the wings is provided by an electric motor in the body of the bird. It is connected to two wheels that attach to rods in the wings in a manner similar to steam locomotives. Inside the wings are torsional motors that adjust the wings’ angle of attack to provide forward motion. Directional control is provided by moving the tail.

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July 22, 2011

Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein (1930 – 1999), was an American poet, musician, cartoonist, and author of children’s books. He styled himself as Uncle Shelby in his children’s books.

Silverstein grew up in Chicago: ‘When I was a kid—12 to 14, around there—I would much rather have been a good baseball player or a hit with the girls, but I couldn’t play ball. I couldn’t dance. Luckily, the girls didn’t want me. Not much I could do about that. So I started to draw and to write. I was also lucky that I didn’t have anybody to copy, be impressed by. I had developed my own style; I was creating before I knew there was a Thurber, a Benchley, a Price and a Steinberg. I never saw their work till I was around 30. By the time I got to where I was attracting girls, I was already into work, and it was more important to me. Not that I wouldn’t rather make love, but the work has become a habit.’

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