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Serial killers, death masks and other strange 100-year-old wax anatomical anomalies
03.28.2016
07:52 am

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History
Science/Tech

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100-year-od wax head/bust of a man showing its age
100-year-old wax head/bust of a man showing its age.
 
What is said to be the largest collection of anatomical wax figures to ever be on public display, including a life-sized version of horrific German serial killer Friedrich Heinrich Karl “Fritz” Haarmann (called the “Vampire of Hanover” and “the Wolf Man” due to penchant for sawing through his unfortunate victims throats with his teeth), can be seen at Brooklyn’s Morbid Anatomy Museum.
 
The wax feet and legs of German serial killer Friedrich Heinrich Karl “Fritz” Haarmann and pieces of his victims
The wax feet and legs of German serial killer Friedrich Heinrich Karl “Fritz” Haarmann and pieces of his victims.
 

“Moulages” (the casting and molding of “mock” injuries for training/instructional purposes) of patients with lupus and leprosy.
 
A female anatomical figure displaying the effects of wearing tight corseting
A female anatomical figure displaying the effects of wearing tight corseting.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
This is ‘What the Future Sounded Like’: Meet the pioneers of ‘music without frontiers’
03.18.2016
10:44 am

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Music
Pop Culture
Science/Tech

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00atristram.jpg
 
If you’re British and of a certain age then Doctor Who was most likely your first introduction to the sounds of electronic music. Apart from its famous theme tune, Doctor Who used an electronic soundtrack composed by Tristram Cary to underscore the arrival of the Daleks onto TV screens in 1963. At the time, most people considered electronic music as weird, alienating noise. Using it in a primetime TV series like Doctor Who was—as one commentator explains in the fascinating documentary What the Future Sounded Like—a rather subversive act.

Tristram Cary struck upon the potential of tape and electronic music while serving in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. The son of the Irish novelist Joyce Cary (The Horse’s Mouth), Tristram was one of the earliest pioneers of electronic music during the 1950s. A classically-trained composer, he had scored such movies as The Ladykillers and Town on Trial but found traditional music inhibiting. Reasoning that music was just the organization of sound, Cary began to experiment with electronic sounds, tape recordings and musique concrète, in a bid to create “music without frontiers.”
 
013tristzindav.jpg
 
At the same, two other electronic music pioneers, the aristocratic Peter Zinovieff and engineer David Cockerell were separately testing out their own ideas. The three eventually came together to form the Electronic Music Studios in 1969. Their intention was to produce a versatile monophonic synthesiser, which could be cheaply produced for public use. While this proved tricky, Cockerell did manage to design one of the first British portable commercially available synthesizer—or Voltage Controlled Studio—the EMS VCS3. This once futuristic-looking “suitcase synth” is what Brian Eno was seen using during his tenure in Roxy Music.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Creationists prove that dinosaurs and people coexisted in goofball ‘X-Files’ parody skit
03.03.2016
12:01 pm

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Amusing
Belief
Science/Tech
Television

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Recently we’ve seen the return of one of the most popular TV shows of the 1990s, The X-Files, scratching that conspiratorial itch for millions of fans (who probably are more interested in Mulder and Scully getting it on than the truth value of the UFO theories the show so hysterically presents).

So it’s a good a time as any to resurrect this chestnut that dates from the early to mid-Bush years, a spoof of The X-Files called The X-Tinct Files purporting to uncover the hidden truths scientists are too fixed in their ways/arrogant/brainwashed to countenance, mainly that history does not stretch millions of years back and that dinosaurs lived a short time ago, alongside human beings.
 
More cringeworthy creationist fun after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Pictures of women using boxy office computers from the early 1980s
02.29.2016
11:40 am

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Amusing
History
Science/Tech

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In early February Tara McGinley ran a really wonderful post on DM with the title “Photos of Women and Giant-Ass Mainframe Computers from the 1960s”—I don’t know if the people at Retrospace were paying attention, but in any case a couple weeks later they ran a pretty rad gallery called “Women at Computers,” which focused on the go-go years of 1979 to 1991.

This is the era in which most of the Michael Fassbender movie Steve Jobs takes place, but you won’t see a single Apple product anywhere in this gallery—in fact, nothing could make Jobs’ case of the importance of his company’s success in that movie better than the clunky DOS-munchers on display here. The big boxy models pictured here in the gray casings are all Radio Shack products—in the early 1980s their signature product was called the TRS-80. Most of the rest are from Xerox, which famously pissed away mountains of valuable interface research in the early 1970s.

For an amusing history of the era in which most of these things were manufactured, you can’t go wrong with Robert X. Cringely’s Accidental Empires.

Added bonus: some of the earliest documented examples of mansplaining in the tech world!
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Today’s best country music songwriter is a Twitter bot
02.29.2016
11:18 am

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Music
Pop Culture
Science/Tech

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In 2016 the most interesting and prolific lyricist in the genre of American roots music is a twitter bot named horse_bluegrass.

Programmer Jared Wenerd fed the lyrics of 1,796 bluegrass songs into a text prediction algorithm. The algorithm creates sentences with a certain degree of randomness, but using predictions of words likely to follow the preceeding word, based on the input of the original songs fed into the program. The end result are lyrics that are at times nonsensical, but at other times quite poignant and profound.

The code takes text, parses it into individual words, to create a model where the algorithm knows the likeliness that one word will follow another or end a phrase. For instance starting with the word “in” it knows that a likely word to follow will be “the”, “a”, or 43 other different words. The algorithm decides to go with “the” due to the statistical likeliness and randomness. It then continues and chooses the next word after “the” using the same process… and so on until the algorithm decides the phrase should end. Once it has a complete phrase, it publishes the text to Twitter

.

The twitter account updates every couple of hours.

Here’s some of horse_bluegrass’ fine work. Certainly as good as, if not better than, anything coming out of Nashville in 2016. Check it out, no songs about pick-up trucks or beer:
 

 

 

 
More robotic country music lyrics after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Steampunk style guitar effect produces vibrato with fire—for only $6000
02.26.2016
10:16 am

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Design
Music
Science/Tech

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The Minneapolis, MN ZVEX guitar effects company has been an extremely reputable builder for a couple of decades—their Fuzz Factory distortion box was one of the devices that kicked off the mania for boutique effects in the first place—and they may have crafted THE ultimate boutique pedal: a terrific sounding, incredibly lovely, prohibitively expensive, and completely impractical vibrato. It’s called the Candela, and at $6000, you’re not going to see it on many pedalboards very soon. In fact, its unique 19th-Century-meets-Rube-Goldberg construction and 15lb weight make it totally unsuitable for live performance regardless of its price. But its most notable feature is its power source. Where most guitar effects take a 9-volt battery, the Candela is ingeniously powered with a tea candle. I suppose it must go without saying that holy shit I totally want one.
 

 
Read more after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Take this mind-blowing virtual tour of Hieronymus Bosch’s ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’
02.09.2016
11:14 am

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Art
Science/Tech

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There’s a stunning website dedicated to Hieronymus Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights,” one of the great (and enduringly popular) treasures of “Early Netherlandish” art. If you should check it out, you’ll be treated to a high-res image of the painting, Dolby-esque sound effects like snarling animals and lapping water, and an erudite series of audio clips explaining certain aspects of the painting, which you can take in sequence (as a tour) or investigate after your own fashion.

The real thing is at the Prado in Madrid.
 

The full painting, with little notes everywhere
 
The different areas of the massive triptych have titles like “The Mountain Landscape,” “The Circuit,” “City on Fire,” and “Tree Man.”

Here are the three favorite things I learned while screwing around with the website:

1. People of that time didn’t necessarily know what an elephant looked like.
2. The Dutch word for “birds” is basically the same as the Dutch word for “fucking.”
3. The bagpipe is a symbol of “sloth and idleness.”

Who knew? Scotland explained.

After the jump, a kind of trailer for the “transmedia triptych” of which the website is a part…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
For $400 a night, you can rent this literal ‘Netflix & Chill’ room on Airbnb
02.08.2016
02:22 pm

Topics:
Movies
Science/Tech
Sex

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Someone clever on Airbnb is renting out what looks to be a pretty ordinary NYC apartment space in Manhattan’s West Village as a “Netflix and Chill” room. To quote their ad: “We bring the famous ‘Netflix & Chill meme’ to life and offer it as an IRL experience that people can rent for a night.” So they can binge watch. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

The fundamentals for a night of movies and sex are all present, including a laptop, an HD projector, a bed with cute Netflix bedspread and pillows, a “fully stocked” mini-fridge containing champagne and various other types of alcohol, and so on. There’s also a nice shower.
 

 
Remarkably, there’s no mention of prophylactics in the ad, which would at least have been self-aware considering that some of the earliest invocations of the phrase “Netflix and chill” (going back a whopping two years now) used visuals of condoms in order to get the cheeky point across.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
New black tarantula spider species discovered near Folsom Prison is named after Johnny Cash
02.08.2016
08:39 am

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Amusing
Heroes
Music
Science/Tech

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Johnny Cash and Aphonopelma johnnycashi
Johnny Cash and his eight-legged namesake tarantula spider, Aphonopelma johnnycashi

Aphonopelma johnnycashi is a new species of black tarantula spider that was just discovered roaming the hills near Folsom State Prison. The lockdown, near Sacramento, CA, is where Johnny Cash performed two historic shows inside the walls of the still operational correctional facility in 1968, captured on the iconic album, At Folsom Prison.
 
Aphonopelma johnnycashi
Aphonopelma johnnycashi
 
According to Biologist Chris Hamilton of the Florida Museum of Natural History, Aphonopelma johnnycashi was one of fourteen new tarantula species that were discovered in and around western Sierra Nevada mountains. The males of the species are predominately black and while there is no word on how big Cash’s eight-legged namesake is, Hamilton (who also sports a Johnny Cash tattoo, because science), had this to say about the newest arachnid to be named after rock and roll royalty:

Then once we looked at the genomics and looked at some of the ecological constraints, we could see this species was pretty unique and independent from the others that it’s closely related to.

Which fittingly sounds very much much like the Man in Black himself.

After the jump,Johnny Cash sings “Folsom Prison Blues”...

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
99 million year-old erect spider penis has been discovered
02.03.2016
11:29 am

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Science/Tech
Sex

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“How do you say “Ron Jeremy” in Latin?”

An arachnid encased in amber was found in a rather, er, comprising position to say the least. The discovery was made in Burma.

A harvestman of the species Halitherses grimaldii was discovered sporting a massive erection, a position it had been stuck in for the past 99 million years. What’s more, the creature was so uniquely endowed that scientists declared the find a brand new family of arachnids — a move based mostly on the shape of its penis

Apparently the outsized spider penis is like no other:

The researchers used photography and 3-D imaging to study the preserved harvestman, focusing special attention on the penis, which extended to almost half the length of the unfortunate male’s body. The erect appendage possesses a distinctively heart-shaped head and a twisted tip, meant for delivering sperm to females via a hole near their mouth.

Sadly, there was no female partner found near the arachnid. Scientist speculate that perhaps the two were separated during the throes of passion or that the spider’s big ol’ erection was due to increased blood pressure while trying to escape the sticky resin. Whatever the case, I feel bad for anything that’s had a 99-million-year-old priapic problem. Yikes! Talk about painful…

Via Discover Magazine and h/t Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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