What if the Nazis had won? A 1960s top 40 radio sampler
10:54 am



Alternate history is a fascinating genre of fiction. You have your anachronistic nostalgia, like steampunk, but that tends to be largely aesthetic, and I’m not that into parasols or goggles. (Also, the glorification of less technology tends to overlook some really inconvenient historical realities, like how inefficient steam power actually was.) I prefer my alternate histories to be horrifying dystopias, and “what if the Nazis won?” certainly fits the bill. There are some critically acclaimed novels based on that very premise—Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle,  Robert Harris’ Fatherland, and Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, but this has to be the first time a video game has been set in a world where Hitler triumphed.

The Wolfenstein video game franchise has produced nine editions in total (the original in 1981), all of which are based on fighting Nazis. The latest incarnation, Wolfenstein: The New Order, takes place in the 1960s, where the player navigates a Nazi-controlled Europe in hopes of launching a counter-offensive against the regime. What appeals to me, of course, is the custom-made soundtrack—the “commercial” below is for a compilation of the 1960s “Nazi pop” that will play throughout the game.

The pre-order for Wolfenstein also includes a package of “artifacts,” like postcards and military patches, but it’s the soundtrack that really establishes the mood for a game. There’s prom-worthy slow-dances, bubblegum pop, growling rockabilly, beach-blanket bingo surf rock, and even some Teutonic psychedelia. You can listen to the whole thing here. I feel like the fact that I speak absolutely no German actually frees up my ear to recognize the attention to sonic detail.

Via A.V. Club

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Wifi networks, a stealth medium for satire? Ask ‘Lulu’s Anal Bleaching for Kids’!
09:47 am



Network names
Many of us have heard of the phenomenon of using the name of your wifi network to communicate with an unidentified neighbor. “Can you PLEASE keep the noise down?” “We can hear you having sex,” and so on. It’s all a sign of postmodern ennui in the technophilic age. Actually talk to your neighbors? Heaven forfend! Send them a anonymous message they probably won’t ever see anyway? Sure! Hell, the intent of such network names probably isn’t communication anyway, it’s to let off steam.

Gawker has a great little piece today on a fracas among neighbors involving network names. Part of what makes it a great story is that the location is Park Slope, the well-known Brooklyn playground of overpaid hipsters with kids. It all revolves around a combination hair salon/toy store called Lulu’s Cuts and Toys and a neighbor who apparently isn’t pleased to live on the same street as Lulu’s Cuts and Toys, and has struck back via the deliciously passive-aggressive medium of network names. See, one of the networks near the intersection of Brooklyn’s posh 5th Ave. and Bergen Ave., perfectly visible from any smartphone or laptop if you happen to be searching for a signal, is “Lulu’s Anal Bleaching for Kids.”
Lulu's Cuts and Toys
Image from Google Maps
It seems that Lulu’s Cuts and Toys isn’t very happy about it. On the Google Group bergenbtwn4and5 (membership required, alas), a user named “brigittelpratt” who is almost certainly Brigitte Prat, the owner of Lulu’s Cuts and Toys, recently posted the following message:


Unfortunately someone near by has named their WiFi a really awful name referring to my shops, “LuLu’s Anal Bleaching for Kids”. I’ve tried calling Time Warner and Verizon and they can’t seem to help. I have reached out to the 78th Precinct and my lawyer, but they can’t help either because I don’t know who it is. You can see the Network from both of my establishments, you can see it on your smart phone from my stores, my house, or standing in front of 417 & 426 Bergen Street as well as across the street. This is really disturbing and I’m lost to what to do without knowing who it is. Any other ideas on how to handle this?

This is kind of the ultimate first-world problem: My expensive children’s salon (typical cost for a cut: $26) and toy store is being attacked by the name of a local wifi network! Help!

While we’re on the subject of the modern art of “communication via network name,” I can’t resist the opportunity to post this gem (whether real or not):

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
The truth about Joseph Stalin’s half-man, half-ape super army
03:13 pm

Stupid or Evil?

Mad Scientists

In December 2005, The Scotsman newspaper published a story about “Stalin’s half-man, half-ape super-warriors”:

THE Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes, according to recently uncovered secret documents.

Moscow archives show that in the mid-1920s Russia’s top animal breeding scientist, Ilya Ivanov, was ordered to turn his skills from horse and animal work to the quest for a super-warrior.

According to Moscow newspapers, Stalin told the scientist: “I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat.”

In 1926 the Politburo in Moscow passed the request to the Academy of Science with the order to build a “living war machine”. The order came at a time when the Soviet Union was embarked on a crusade to turn the world upside down, with social engineering seen as a partner to industrialisation: new cities, architecture, and a new egalitarian society were being created.

The Scotsman must have thought they had uncovered one of Soviet Russia’s darkest secrets. The article went on to detail how Stalin financed a scientist Doctor Ivanoff with $200,000 to find out if it was possible to create a human-ape hybrid, the “Humanzee.” 

In order to do this, Ivanoff decided he had to impregnate chimpanzees with human sperm. With assistance from the Pasteur Institute, Ivanoff was able to use their primate facility in Conakry, Guinea to carry out his experiments. It was in 1926, Ivanoff had three chimpanzees artificially impregnated at the facility. However, the experiment failed.

Back in Russia, Ivanoff decided to impregnate Russian women with ape sperm. A “Woman G” was set to be impregnated with orangutan sperm, but the donor ape (called “Tarzan”) died, and the experiment was canceled. In one of Stalin’s political purges, Ivanoff was removed form office, and died not longer after.

However, as this documentary on the “Humanzee” finds out, Ivanoff was not creating a hybrid ape army, but was attempting to discredit religious belief by proving evolution by creating humans fro apes. It also shows how The Scotsman published a story that had been sensationalized in its original retelling in a Moscow newspaper. This documentary is a bit like that story, as it errs towards the sensational before hurriedly resolving the story of the “Humanzee.” It also includes the tale of Xena, a “hairy woman,” believed to be a seven-foot-tall “abanu,” or ape-human; and the very disturbing Doctor Moreau-like experiments of Doctor Robert White, who transplanted a living monkey head onto another monkey’s dead body in 1970.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Will robots replace Lady Gaga?

Last week Dangerous Minds’ Martin Schneider posed the question “Will pole dancing robots put human strippers out of work?” After watching the video of this batshit gyrating animatronic by artist Jordan Wolfson I’m inclined to answer “maybe.” I mean I doubt they’ll be wearing bonkers witch masks, but who knows?

According to the description on YouTube:

“The figure incorporates facial recognition technology, allowing her to focus on, and unnervingly follow visitors at the exhibition.”

The piece is currently being exhibited March 6 – April 19 at David Zwirner Gallery in New York. 

Via io9

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Will pole dancing robots put human strippers out of work?
09:49 am



Poledancing robot
So many questions. The world’s largest computer expo took place in Hanover, Germany, last week. It’s called CeBIT (Centrum für Büroautomation, Informationstechnologie und Telekommunikation), and David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany were both in attendance. Tobit Software hauled out a few robots who proceeded to do a, er, “sexy” pole dance for a large audience including the two heads of state.
dancing stripper robot
We wring our hands and stroke our beards thoughtfully at the specter of widespread mechanization and robotization acting as a powerful drag on employment figures, as increasingly, blue-collar jobs are being taken over by robots, and corporations are only too eager to accelerate that process along. But I don’t think anyone had supposed that strippers were among the threatened population.

As always, it’s a little unfair to judge an incipient technology by its first exposure to the public. But it’s not easy to imagine what the target audience for this product is.

Each gyrating bucket of bolts runs $39,500, for those who can afford a really weird private fantasy come true.

It is not known whether Frau Merkel made any disappointed comments about the “Unheimliches Tal” (Uncanny Valley).

via So Bad So Good

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Neil deGrasse Tyson has smoked the best pot in the Cosmos
08:40 pm


Neil deGrasse Tyson

What is this, unseen footage of Neil deGrasse Tyson as the ‘luded out astrophysicist character that was cut out of one of the Bill & Ted movies?

Pass the gravity bong, Neil!

Via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
A $3 million bulletproof diamond-studded suit, because safety and fabulosity first
06:16 am

Class War


This week, Luxury Launches heralded the arrival of Swiss haberdasher Suitart’s Diamond Armor bespoke men’s suit, made of bulletproof material and bedazzled with black diamonds.

The suit is not only bulletproof (certified by NATO standards) as mentioned before, it’s also waterproof due to nano-technological sealing and is equipped with an active cooling system. It’s the only suit of its kind that has an air conditioning system developed by EMPA built into it. The integrated technology can be activated at the push of a button and offers cooling through humidification of water. To add elegance and class to the suit, the Diamond Armor is encrusted with 880 black diamonds. The lapel and the contours of the Diamond Armor are graced with 600 black diamonds each with a diameter of four millimeters and a total weight of 140 carat and the buttons of the jacket consist of Swiss watch steel 316L with DLC coating and are graced with additional 280 black diamonds. To match the opulence of the suit, it can be accessorized with a 24 carat golden silk tie developed by fabric specialist Weisbrod from Zurich and EMPA and Carl F. Bucherer limited edition watch.

Wearing a suit encrusted with diamonds and a tie of spun gold? Goodness gracious me, why would anyone want to harm you?

So not only is the suit Elvis-y as all hell, it’s bulletproof, waterproof and air-conditioned? The piling of insane Liberace-isms atop the suit’s James Bond features, combined with Suitart’s refusal thus far to release a photo of the thing, gives this announcement the heady stink of hoax, but such fabrics DO exist. Non-spangly armored suits have already been available for years to heads of state and people conducting international business in conditions of civil unrest, as this CBS News video explains. (Apologies in advance if it runs an ad, I can’t make it not do that.)

Still, the lack of a simple photograph showing an item at which the world would surely love to get a gander is disheartening. What Suitart has shared is this video dramatizing how their fabric stops bullets.

This video demonstrates how bullets can be stopped with a Ted Nugent guitar solo.


Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
‘Tale of Two Microbes’: Food poisoning meets campy British 70s sci-fi
06:17 am


A Tale of Two Microbes

A Tale of Two Microbes
In this marvelous 19-minute educational film about the dangers of carelessly handled foodstuffs, “Basil and Desdemonia Salmonella,” ably and theatrically embodied by seasoned British actors Frank Muir and June Whitfield, manage to (SPOILER ALERT) evade a battery of dangers, such as heat, cold, soap, and so on to start a gargantuan, toxic family in the belly of some unsuspecting Briton.

Throughout, Basil explains the dangers that lie ahead while offering reassurances that the stupid humans will likely neglect to wash their knives properly, re-heat their repasts at a sufficiently low temperature, and so on. These dialogues, set in a suitably sci-fi and low-budget soundstage, are intercut with more traditional scenes of the aforementioned stupid humans committing the very transgressions that assure the microbes’ survival. Stupid humans!! We see a well-meaning butcher and, later, a somewhat quarrelsome married couple preparing a meal.

Basil, who carries around a pipe all the time, and Desdemonia both wear the silver signifiers of 1970s’ sci-fi, the type of garb that incidentally was lovingly lampooned in “App Development and Condiments,” the most recent episode of Community.
A Tale of Two Microbes
Muir was the type of older British actor (he was also a writer) who in an alternate universe might have played Alfred to Adam West’s Batman; he’s awfully familiar to me but I’ll be damned if I recognize anything in his CV. Whitfield has had a more illustrious career—she’s still active at the age of 88—and might be best known for her portrayal of “Mother” in Ab Fab and even appeared in one of those cringeworthy Friends episodes where the whole gang flew to London for a wedding or something. Interestingly, “A Tale of Two Microbes” has more than a whiff of the old Doctor Who episodes about them, so it’s fitting that she popped up in the two-part episode “The End of Time” just a few years ago.

“A Tale of Two Microbes” is dated as all hell and irredeemably British, campy and enjoyable. Just when things start to lag, Basil’s “Uncle Pedro” shows up. Trust me: you don’t want to miss Uncle Pedro.

via Weird Universe

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
New Android app automates ‘attentive’ texts so your girlfriend will think you actually care
11:24 am



A few months ago DM brought you the expensive service guys could hire to fool their loved ones into thinking that they are involved in a relationship. Now, in another bold step in the process of getting professional help to minimize the stress that women inevitably bring—women, amirite fellas?—there’s now an Android app that automates the little chit-chat texts from your loved one that make the day a little easier to get through.
Appropriately enough, it’s called BroApp, and it appears to have been invented just as much to elicit piqued thinkpieces like this very one as it is to generate cash revenue. (The price tag is $1.99.) Men’s Health, of all magazines, nailed it: “Congratulations, you’ve just outsourced your relationship.” That line comes from BroApp’s own page on Google Play! They’re proud of that quote!

Here’s a little more of that app description:

BroApp is your clever relationship wingman. It automatically messages your girlfriend sweet things so you can spend more time with the Bros. Select your girlfriend’s number, add some sweet messages, and set the time of day when you want those messages sent. BroApp takes care of the rest.


BroApp is smart, taking all possible steps to safeguard the BroApp secret. BroApp’s unique detectors integrate advanced Android technologies that ensure your girlfriend never becomes suspicious of your relationship wingman.

The messages are brilliantly semi-literate, including such syntactical puzzlers as “Hi darl, how did you go today?” and “Hey babe, whats doing with you today?” (“Darl?” Who says, “Darl?”) One question I have is, why can’t the messages incorporate the young lady’s own name?

And another thing: Where’s the female version of this app, to help busy women reassure their sensitive beaux that everything’s OK?

(Memo to the BroApp powers-that-be: Reviewers and journalists can get a comped copy of the app, right?)

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
City bike shares are great, except for having to use your stupid legs, says Kickstarter inventor
03:02 pm



The most prominent city bike share in the country is the Citi Bike program in New York, which launched in mid-2013, an event that triggered great hope among bike activists as well as fear and loathing from the likes of the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal (seriously, if you want to see the elite troglodyte opinion at its worst, click on that link).

Riding a bike in New York City can be quite dangerous—mostly for the bicyclists themselves. That’s why Citi Bike took great care in imposing certain limits on the bikes’ capacity. They can’t accelerate to any great speed; they’re sturdy bikes that are ideal for a quick jaunt across town, but don’t expect to break any world records on one.
For some folks, though, it wasn’t enough to have inexpensive bicycles available over much of the terrain of Manhattan and Brooklyn—some kind of hack was required. Enter the ShareRoller, a Kickstarter project that’s just stupid enough to get funded. The ShareRoller is a little device, invented by one Jeff Guida, that you can attach to the front of a Citi Bike (or the equivalent bike in many American cities, including San Francisco, Boston, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C., all of which use the same model) that will let you surpass the 20-mph barrier with ease. The motor is “a briefcase-like machine,” proof positive that the primary demographic here is commuters and office workers.

Guida’s looking to make $100,000 so he can develop his ShareRoller prototype, after which lucky investors will have the honor of paying $1,195 to buy one of the new devices. Honestly, at that price couldn’t you just get an electric motorbike of your own? (It’s relevant here that electric bicycles are banned in New York City; Guida thinks that the ShareRoller would constitute a workaround for that law, but don’t get your hopes up.)
For the record, I’ve used the Citi Bike system before, and I think it’s a great project. I don’t think New York needs a lot of office workers toddling around on ShareRoller-powered Citi Bikes, however.

via Gothamist

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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