Archive for March, 2014

March 18, 2014

Here Be Dragons

unknown

Here be dragons‘ means dangerous or unexplored territories, in imitation of the medieval practice of putting dragons, sea serpents and other mythological creatures in uncharted areas of maps. There are just two known historical use of this phrase in the Latin form ‘HC SVNT DRACONES.’ The term appeared on the 16th century Lenox Globe around the east coast of Asia, and might be related to the Komodo dragons in the Indonesian islands, tales of which were quite common throughout East Asia. 

It also appeared on another globe of that era engraved on two conjoined halves of ostrich eggs. Earlier maps contain a variety of references to mythical and real creatures, but the Lenox Globe and the egg globe are the only known surviving maps to bear this phrase. An investigation of the egg globe performed by collector Stefaan Missinne concluded that the Hunt-Lenox Globe is a cast of the egg globe.

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March 17, 2014

Wayback Machine

peabody

internet archive

The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet created by the Internet Archive, a non-profit organization, based in San Francisco, California. It was set up by Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat, co-founders of Alexa Internet, which provides commercial web traffic data, and is maintained with content from Alexa (currently a subsidiary of Amazon.com). The service enables users to see archived versions of web pages across time, which the Archive calls a ‘three dimensional index.’

The name Wayback Machine was chosen as a droll reference to a plot device in an animated cartoon series, ‘The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.’ In it, Mr. Peabody and Sherman routinely used a time machine called the ‘WABAC machine’ (pronounced ‘Wayback’) to witness, participate in, and, more often than not, alter famous events in history.

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March 14, 2014

Evil Clown

pennywise

el colacho

Although clowns are originally comic performers and characterized to humor and entertain people, the image of the evil clown is a development in popular culture, in which the playful trope is rendered disturbing through the use of horror elements and dark humor.

Philosopher Wolfgang M. Zucker points out the similarities between a clown’s appearance and the cultural depictions of demons and other infernal creatures, noting ‘[the clown’s] chalk-white face in which the eyes almost disappear, while the mouth is enlarged to a ghoulish bigness looks like the mask of death.’

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March 13, 2014

Satoshi Nakamoto

Dorian Nakamoto

Satoshi Nakamoto is the person or group that created the Bitcoin protocol and reference software, Bitcoin-Qt. It is not known whether the name is real or a pseudonym. In 2008, Nakamoto published a paper on ‘The Cryptography Mailing’ list at metzdowd.com describing his digital currency. In 2009, he released the first Bitcoin software that launched the network and the first units currency, called bitcoins. Nakamoto is said to have continued to contribute to his Bitcoin software release with other developers until contact with his team and the community gradually began to fade in mid-2010.

Near this time, he handed over control of the source code repository and alert key functions of the software to Gavin Andresen, chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation (a non-profit founded in 2012 to promote Bitcoin). Also around this same time, he handed over control of the Bitcoin.org domain and several other domains to various prominent members of the Bitcoin community. Nakamoto is believed to be in possession of roughly one million bitcoins. At one point in December 2013, this was the equivalent of US$1.1 billion.

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March 12, 2014

Goat Simulator

goat simulator

Goat Simulator is a third-person perspective game in which the player controls a goat. There does not appear to be any kind of storyline or plot. The player is free to explore the game’s world as a goat, destroying things in the environment, running, jumping, and biting. According to the developers, Coffee Stain Studios: ‘Goat Simulator is like an old school skating game, except instead of being a skater, you’re a goat, and instead of doing tricks, you wreck stuff.’

The game boasts the fact that various glitches and bugs have been intentionally left in the game, as to add to the light-hearted entertainment value. Another gameplay feature is the ability to ‘lick’ objects with the goat’s absurdly long tongue, which will then stick to the goat’s tongue and can be carried and swung around to provide an alternate method of wreaking havoc on the game environment.

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March 12, 2014

Surgeon Simulator

Surgeon Simulator

Surgeon Simulator 2013, a humorous medical sim, was initially created in a 48-hour period for the 2013 ‘Global Game Jam’ (the four developers spent an additional 48 days building the commercial version). The game is played in first-person perspective. A mouse is used to control the surgeon’s hand (holding the right button rotates the hand; the left button grabs items). Gameplay consists of various surgical procedures, for example a heart transplant. Extra modes are available after completion of the early operations, such as performing an operation in a moving ambulance with surgical instruments bouncing around at random, and operating in outer space where instruments float. 

Reception for the game has been positive, with critics stating that although the game was hard to control, this difficulty was ‘part of the appeal.’ Ars Technica commented upon the narrator’s voice over, saying that it ‘belies the ridiculousness that unfolds as he flops and flails his way through surgery.’ ‘Rock, Paper, Shotgun, praised the game’s humor and fun, and said ”Surgeon Simulator 2013′ is not a brilliant game. But it is a brilliant joke. In the form of a game. It’s an idea that is a clean magnitude of awesome above 90% of what will be released this year because it is so absurd.’

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March 11, 2014

Florentijn Hofman

Florentijn Hofman

Florentijn Hofman (b. 1977) is a Dutch artist known for playful urban installations such as the ‘Rubber Duck’ (a giant floating sculpture). They were built in various sizes, including one created in 2007 that is the largest rubber duck in the world at 105 feet long. Hofman’s tour was named ‘Spreading joy around the world.’ He aimed to recall everyone’s childhood memories by exhibiting the duck in 14 cities. The ducks are constructed with more than 200 pieces of PVC. There is an opening at the back of the body so that staff can perform maintenance. In addition, there is an electric fan in its body so that it can be inflated at any time, in either good or bad weather.

Since 2007, the ducks have been on display in Amsterdam, Belgium, Osaka, Sydney, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, and Pittsburg. In 2009, while it was on display in Belgium, vandals stabbed the duck 42 times. The duck on display in Hong Kong was damaged and deflated in Taiwan after an earthquake, before bursting a few weeks later. In 2013, Sina Weibo, China’s most popular microblog, blocked the terms ‘Big Yellow Duck.’ The censorship occurred because a photoshopped version of ‘Tank Man’ (the Tiananmen Square protester), which swapped all tanks with this sculpture, had been circulating.

March 10, 2014

Taser Safety Issues

dont tase me bro

Taser safety issues include cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) in susceptible subjects, possibly leading to heart attack or death in minutes by ventricular fibrillation, which leads to cardiac arrest and—if not treated immediately—to sudden death. People susceptible to this outcome are sometimes healthy and unaware of their susceptibility.

Although the medical conditions or use of illegal drugs among some of the casualties may have been the proximate cause of death, the electric shock of the Taser can significantly heighten such risk for subjects in an at-risk category. In some cases however, death occurred after Taser use coupled with the use of force alone, with no evidence of underlying medical condition and no use of drugs.

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March 8, 2014

Feral Child

romulus and remus

jungle book

A feral child (also, colloquially, wild child) is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no (or little) experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and crucially, of human language. Some feral children have been confined by people (usually their own parents); in some cases this child abandonment was due to the parents’ rejection of a child’s severe intellectual or physical impairment. Feral children may have experienced severe child abuse or trauma before being abandoned or running away.

Feral children are sometimes the subjects of folklore and legends, typically portrayed as having been brought up by animals. Myths and fictional stories have depicted feral children reared by wild animals such as wolves, apes, and bears. Famous examples include Ibn Tufail’s Hayy, Ibn al-Nafis’ Kamil, Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli, Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan, and the legends of Atalanta, Enkidu and Romulus and Remus.

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March 7, 2014

Ship’s Cat

ships cat by Daniel Mackie

The ship’s cat has been a common feature on many trading, exploration, and naval ships, and dates back to ancient times. Cats have been carried on ships for many reasons, the most important being to catch mice and rats. These rodents aboard a ship can cause damage to ropes and woodwork. Also, rodents threatened the stores the ship carried and were a source of disease, which is dangerous for ships that are at sea for long periods of time.

The natural ability of cats to adapt to new surroundings made them suitable for service on a ship. They also offered companionship and a sense of home, security and camaraderie to sailors who could be away from port for long periods, especially in times of war.

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March 6, 2014

Beyond the Black Rainbow

Beyond the Black Rainbow

Beyond the Black Rainbow is a 2010 Canadian science fiction film written and directed by Panos Cosmatos in his feature film debut. The films begins in the 1960s, as Dr. Arboria founds the Arboria Institute, a New Age research facility dedicated to finding a reconciliation between science and spirituality, allowing human beings to move into a new age of perpetual happiness.

In the 1980s, Arboria’s work has been taken over by his protégé, Dr. Barry Nyle. Outwardly a charming, handsome scientist, Nyle is in fact a psychopath who has been keeping Elena, a teenage girl, captive in an elaborate prison/hospital beneath the Institute. Elena demonstrates psychic capabilities, which Nyle can suppress, using a glowing, prism-like device.

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March 6, 2014

Hard to Be a God

Holy Order

Hard to be a God is a 1964 science fiction novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky set in their ‘Noon Universe (a fictional setting in the 22nd century). The novel follows Anton, an undercover operative from the future planet Earth, in his mission on an alien planet, that is populated by human beings, whose society has not advanced beyond the Middle Ages. The novel’s core idea is that human progress throughout the centuries is often cruel and bloody, and that religion and blind faith can be effective tools of oppression, working to destroy the emerging scientific disciplines and enlightenment.

The title ‘Hard to be a God’ refers to Anton’s (known by his alias ‘don Rumata’ throughout the book) perception of his precarious role as an observer on the planet, for while he has far more advance knowledge than the people around him, he is forbidden to assist too actively, as it would interfere with the natural progress of history. The book pays a lot of attention to the internal world of the main character, showing his own evolution from an emotionally uninvolved ‘observer’ to the person who rejects the blind belief in theory when confronted with the cruelty of real events.

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