Archive for May 2008
Speaking of Hitler… The Telegraph tells the rather interesting story of the German archeologist who inspired Harrison Ford’s character:
Like Jones, Rahn was an archaeologist, like him he fell foul of the Nazis and like him he was obsessed with finding the Holy Grail - the cup reputedly used to catch Christ’s blood when he was crucified. But whereas Jones rode the Grail-train to box-office glory, Rahn’s obsession ended up costing him his life.
Metafilter user Artw explains it better than I can:
Jake and Dinos Chapman have bought a stack of Adolf Hitlers paintings for £115,000 and defaced them with rainbows and butterflies for their new show, “If Hitler Had Been a Hippy, How Happy Would We Be”. The show also recreates “Fucking Hell”, a huge swastika shaped diorama of tiny plastic nazis torturing and killing each other, which had been destroyed in a fire.
An example of their modifications to the painting. I’m honestly unsure if this is an act of historic vandalism or legitmate art.
Jack Shafer says that Michael Chrichton’s rather infamous prediction about the demise of mass media wasn’t wrong, just early.
As we pass his prediction’s 15-year anniversary, I’ve got to declare advantage Crichton. Rot afflicts the newspaper industry, which is shedding staff, circulation, and revenues. It’s gotten so bad in newspaperville that some people want Google to buy the Times and run it as a charity! Evening news viewership continues to evaporate, and while the mass media aren’t going extinct tomorrow, Crichton’s original observations about the media future now ring more true than false. Ask any journalist.
He also talks at length with the author about the topic and more.
I’ve probably noted my fascination with synesthesia — associating numbers with colors, smells with shapes, etc — before, but this stuff is interesting:
Where does synesthesia come from? Maybe synesthetes are just lying. Perhaps they’re under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs — many research subjects are college kids, after all — or happened as children to play with colored alphabet blocks. Or maybe they’re simply good with metaphors.
To Ramachandran, the latter answer gets at the truth — but he stressed that what appears as metaphor is a literal sensory experience for synesthetes. That may explain, he said, why synesthesia is eight times more common among poets, artists and novelists than the general population.
The essence of art is, arguably, metaphor, and its practitioners are especially prolific — and metaphor is just a convenient shorthand for the connection of unlinked cognitive phenomena. That’s exactly what appears to happen in the minds of synesthetes. Far-flung parts of their brain have unusually high levels of cross-wiring.
It’s worth reading the rest of the post, if only for the heartening “we’re all synesthetes” argument at the end.
In case you’re not sold on the idea that there are upsides to high gasoline prices, I recommend this article.
It’s the way of the future according to David George Gordon. I find myself surprisingly interested in it. The crucial component is this:
Insect lovers like Gordon argue that entomophagy — the scientific term for consuming insects — could also be a far greener way to get protein than eating chicken, cows or pigs. With the global livestock sector responsible for 18% of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions and grain prices reaching record highs, cheap, environmentally low-impact insects could be the food of the future — provided we can stomach them.
Small Google Changes
I noticed two interesting things on Google today, so I thought I’d share.
This may surprise people:
The number of sex workers in New Zealand does not appear to have increased since legislation decriminalising prostitution became law, according to a new report.
Even for homosexuals eager for the right to get married, there could be one drawback to California’s making it legal: doting parents and the persistant question of “When are you gonna get married?”