Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Internet Meme Generation Discussion

Behold, as these three guys take you on an hour and a half long discussion of Internet meme generation. This isn't just an exploration of the memes themselves--these guys take a serious look at the groups and subgroups where the ideas seem to continually originate from.

Of particular interest is the part early on about 4chan's /b/ imageboard (beginning at about 3:45) Rapid combination and recombination of ideas and content, along with complete anonymity seems to be a recipe for exactly the kind of hive mind we've been talking about.

Warning: This hour and a half long video is an hour and a half long.

Ways to be Effectively Heard

A friend's unique response to the outcry over President Obama's invitiation to give the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame.

In other, slightly related news, I saw this guy on the street, and I drove around the block three times trying to get a good photograph of him. He was all by himself, and in all honesty, I had no idea what he was getting at, at first. In fact, his sign was so nonsensical to me the first time around, I even considered honking to show my support for vague, surrealist protests.

All these things get me thinking not about reproductive rights, but about changing minds.


On the windowsill of a bus from Zagreb to Savudrija, 13 July 2006.

Some of the scariest/most awesome things you’ll ever see…

Images taken by Paul Scheer at the Neverland Auction. Click on the show info tab at the top for his amusing photo titles..

Monday, April 27, 2009

BrainPop on Geek Dad!

Geek Dad is one of my favorite blogs, and look what they've just covered in one of their longest and most detailed posts to date!
One site that I discovered many months ago is BrainPop... You just can’t beat it when your kids are begging to learn!

I'm curious, did the folks at BP notice a spike in hits today?

Wired's Geek Dad

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Transcripts from KGB Cold War Notebooks

Here's a link with translated texts of Alexander Vassiliev's KGB notebooks written during the cold war. I'm not much of a history buff at all, but some of them are spooky as hell to read:
Report on a c/t dated 1.4.42 from NY
Maxim reports that “Chap” learned the following in conversation with an old friend of his, an instructor at Columb. U. named Clarence Hiskey (Clarence Hiskey): Together with a group of prominent physicists and chemists at Columb. U., he is urgently working on a radioactive bomb. It is thought that this bomb will have enormous destructive power with a very large blast radius, possibly hundreds of miles long. Those who know about the bomb fear it could annihilate millions of people... The Germans are far ahead of the Americans in their work in this field. The Germans already have the ability to use the bombs, but fear that the large affected area will be inaccessible to them.

...And then more like this... Juicy!
Letter from Gennady dated 27.10.38
“‘Crook’ is currently selecting materials against the head of the US fascist organization, Fritz Kuhn. To this end he has enlisted a woman named Virginia Cogswell, the mistress of the aforementioned Kuhn... he moved Virginia into the Siric Hotel, installed a microphone in her room and arranged for the recording in another room of the conversation that takes place in Virginia’s room while Kuhn visits her.

[Virginia Cogswell] Met Fritz Kuhn and was his sweetheart for 3 years. Kept a diary of events... thanks to her liaison with F. K. She knew their entire network and was up to date on all of their espionage activities. She was checked out by the Gestapo and could be cordially received in Germany by Hitler.
P.S. F. K.’s vile and underhanded tactics infected her against him and the German-American Union, and she is prepared to do anything and to completely expose their entire organization in this country and everywhere she knows.
You could translate reams of this stuff directly into a movie script! Or, daytime soap opera. One of the two.

Galspanic's Weekly Question, or how I drive my wife crazy.

Supposing a disembodied voice were to say to you; "You are being transported to pre-existing fictional universe of your choosing. You will be given a universal translation device implanted discreetly in your ear, and an equivalent of ten thousand dollars of the local currency. While you won't personally know any of the protagonists, or antagonists of this fictional universe, they do exist in your time frame. Meeting said protagonists/antagonists would be like meeting Madonna, or Charles Manson. There's a possibility of this occurring, but it's highly unlikely. Working to your advantage though, is your knowledge of the workings of this fictional place. The universe of your choice can be from a book, movie, or television. Choose your destination now!"

Where would you go? What do you think you would do there? Keep in mind what the everyday situation of this universe you are choosing might be. Would living in that situation really be as amazing as your instant reaction says it would be?

Friday, April 24, 2009


Immaturity? Lost in the past? I dunno. I can't say anything to defend myself on this one. I did enjoy it and will probably watch it again tomorrow.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Himalayan Kitchen

Hey, so, to recap, Odori and Fugu and Caterpillar and I went to this local restaurant. Just opened. It was called Himalayan Kitchen. The kitchen was slammed, but the food was swell, I thought. The service was likewise all over the place, but they were charming and wanted to be helpful. A woman came out late in the evening (probably one of the owners or managers) and asked us about our experience. We said that we enjoyed the food.

I snapped this photograph because I couldn't resist, but all in all, I enjoyed it and would go back. What did you guys think? Full disclosure: Mostly this post is to test our new Twitter feed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Operation: Pedopriest

Not so great for trauma, actually. Play now!

Vader Falls Into a Volcano; That's Why He's Like That

I was sitting here thinking, trying to figure out how I knew that Darth Vader, at some point before A New Hope, fought Obi-Wan Kenobi fell into a volcano. I remember knowing this in second grade. Why the hell did I know this?

I realized that I was sitting in front of the Internet, so I asked it why I knew this. The Internet told me this, and mentioned a bunch of possibilities, including an issue of Dynamite, Alan Dean Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye, and finally, this interview with George Lucas from Rolling Stone, posted back in May of 1977 (!). Here, Lucas is talking about the backstory that he hopes to one day tell:
It's about Ben and Luke's father and Vader when they are young Jedi knights. But Vader kills Luke's father, then Ben and Vader have a confrontation, just like they have in Star Wars, and Ben almost kills Vader. As a matter of fact, he falls into a volcanic pit and gets fried and is one destroyed being. That's why he has to wear the suit with a mask, because it's a breathing mask. It's like a walking iron lung. His face is all horrible inside.

It's a good interview, and a great reminder of how much work and thought went into the original movie. (I'm not sure if "one destroyed being" is a typo or a very weird colloquialism.) Also, I don't want to be a George Lucas apologist, but I do think I hate the three prequels a lot less than most. In fact, I quite enjoyed them! Sure, there are a couple or three fatal errors in The Phantom Menace, but I think Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith do a decent job side-stepping these mistakes. I think all three prequels have the same idealistic spirit, dramatic urgency, and (for the most part) fun as the originals, as well as the attention to detail and deep respect for complex lore that made the Star Wars Universe so interesting for me in the first place.

I'm going to watch all six movies again! Who's with me?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Amazon's Epic Day of Fail

Super sorry for the long post, but I think this is one of the most fascinating events I've witnessed on the Internet. In case you missed it last week, here's what you missed:

Amazon's got a sales ranking system that determines what books are found in searches, which appear in in-house ads, and who gets on best seller lists. This all goes a long way towards increasing a book's sales popularity...

While it made the news on April 12, it looks like the first signs were in February, when Craig Seymour found that his memoir of a gay stripper had no sales ranking. When asked, Amazon replied that this was because his book was classified as an "adult product". News really only began to spread a week ago however when people noticed that LBGT books were deranked, en masse. This included an Ellen Degeneres biography, Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain, E.M. Forster's Maurice, books on gays in politics, self-help LBGT books, a children's book on homosexuality, etc (a community generated list, here).

From the NY Times:
Word of the problem started spreading across blogs and Twitter on Sunday after Mark R. Probst, the author of The Filly, a gay western romance for young adults, posted on his blog that several gay romances, including his, had lost their sales rankings on Amazon. Mr. Probst e-mailed Amazon and got a reply that said the company was excluding “ ‘adult’ material from appearing in some searches and best-seller lists.”
Unfortunately for Amazon the Internet realized that this "adult material" did not appear to include heterosexual content, including such books as Ron Jeremy's Hardest Working Man in Show Business, others filled with Playboy centerfolds, and even a book entitled A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality was still ranked (and is still the top hit if you search for "homosexuality" at Amazon).

So here's where it gets fun: Twitter. Twitter! I had no idea the impact Twitter could have beyond telling everyone what color your poo was in the morning! (nor apparently did Amazon).

The shitstorm that followed started with thousands of Enraged Twitter Users using the #amazonfail thread. This quickly became the top trend in Twitter, beating out Easter and Jesus on the holiday weekend. Here, all the news about the Fail could be found in realtime as everyone repeatedly tweeted about the same pebble of breaking news that they found (probably on Twitter) and wanted to share with others (on twitter). Metafilter, Digg, Reddit, the major news groups, and pretty much any major blog had something to say about it, and proudly the internet united behind our LGBT brothers and sisters!

Meanwhile, Amazon's PR response was this: “We recently discovered a glitch to our Amazon sales rank feature that is in the process of being fixed.”

The Internet, seeing this as being blown off with an inane, half-baked response and more importantly without an apology of any kind, came back with the new Twitter tag, #glitchmyass, as everyone and their dog agreed that Amazon was full of crap. Serious rioting ensued, complete with bombs (A googlebomb), petitions (over 24,000 sigs), open protest letters, calls for public crucifixions, logos, t-shirts, facebook groups, theme music... And of course amazonfail.com was for sale on ebay.

It turns out that while their PR group was high on easter peeps others at Amazon were completely panicking:
By this time, Amazon.com had upgraded the problem to Sev-1... Sev-1 is reserved for the most critical operational issues and often are sent up the management chain to the senior vice president level.

...So it's a week later, the books have their ratings back (Twitter kept track of that, too, but I forgot the #tag), and here's what the Internets have come up with:

Official explanation from Amazon: A Glitch
This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.

It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles - in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica.
[Note: still no actual apology...]

From an Amazon worker on the inside: The French!
A guy from Amazon France got confused on how he was editing the site, and mixed up 'adult,' which is the term they use for porn, with stuff like 'erotic' and 'sexuality.' That browse node editor is universal, so by doing that there he affected ALL of Amazon.
From the popular internet: A hacker terrorist has claimed responsibility for the event!
Here's a nice piece I like to call "how to cause moral outrage from the entire Internet in ten lines of code"... The combination of these two actions resulted in a mass delisting of queer books being delisted from the rankings at Amazon. I guess my game is up, but 300+ hits on google news for amazon gay and outrage across the blogosphere ain't so bad.
And still others don't care what caused it, but continue to party up the hate towards Amazon until they officially apologize.

So anyway...

It's amazing how fun it is to be a part of a mob mentality, especially when you're so obviously on the right side! I admit that early Monday (last week) morning (after only a few hours of sleep with a migraine, you see) I may have possibly written an e-mail to Amazon... it could be that this letter might have contained a few phrases such as, "less intelligence than a pile of bricks made from bird feces... demand a public apology... may never buy from Amazon again," and, "...require sensitivity training" (+_+). But I didn't send it. Probably. And of course now in hindsight... yeah this is a huge mistake on Amazon's part, but they're a huge company, and with some serious, complicated technical stuff they have to deal with. An apology is definitely still in order I think, but I can't imagine this was anything really malicious on the inside of Amazon if it hit a bunch of genres the same way... I could see how the Reproductive & Sexual Medicine people might not be as vocal, you see.

Anyway. I just thought that was a fun break from the other break I was taking from studying.

America's 1984

"On Thursday the spirit of George Orwell visited America, three times."

A chilling essay in Harper's .

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"Waking Up Canadian"

You may be Canadian. Even if you didn't think you were.

Starcraft 2 on ESPN!

Well no, but it sure seems like it, and it totally works! Not that I've ever watched ESPN or been invited to a tailgate party, but I could seriously see myself partying it up outside a stadium drinking wine coolers and eating raw steaks and painting Zerg symbols all over my buddies' chests. Cuz that's how it works, right?

Watch in full screen! Note however, that it's like 20 minutes long.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I am the biggest geek...

I can't say much. I'm just a wee little geek.
But I am SUCH a little geek.

Tonematrix: great for trauma!

Hours and hours of my life well spent.

I am the biggest geek ever.

My life-sized Captain America shield arrived in the mail yesterday from Midtown Comics. Just had to gloat a little in my geekdom.

This is a picture with my head in it for reference.

You too could order it from Midtown Comics if only they were still in stock.

I got 3. One for my apartment. One for my office at the VA. The last for my office at the U.

I am such a loooooooser. But I revel. Revel I say.

Koyaanisqatsi Thursday

I completely forgot to mention Koyaanisqatsi Thursday. Be warned. It's on Hulu, and Koyaaniqatsi interspersed with commercials for premium dog food is something of a mind fuck. Koyaanisqatsi Thursday may never be the same again.

UPDATE: Hulu has removed the commercial interruptions from Koyaanisqatsi! I wonder if they heard about Koyaanisqatsi Thursday possibly never being the same again.

UPDATE 2: Okay, they lied. There are totally commercials in there.

There is no spokesperson for reckless driving, folks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jack & Max Escape from the End of Time

Colleague Mike Dawson has been totally working a lot since the release of his critically acclaimed memoir Freddie & Me. He's also got another book coming out this month: Ace-Face: The Mod with the Metal Arms. Freddie & Me was one of the better comics I've read in a while, and Ace-Face looks like great fun, also. Ted at Gecko Books will order it for you if you ask nice.

The point I meant to make is this: Mike is also writing and drawing a serial web-comic called Jack & Max Escape from the End of Time that I think a lot of us would find highly enjoyable and quite accessible to our particular sensibilities. It's a sweet mix of contradictions--both mysterious and funny; the art manages to be at once goofy and bold, and the story hops between the deadly serious and the unapologetically nerdy and infantile. And it starts HERE.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

RIP Ellie

I've debated about whether to post this or not, but I think I will. My unbelievably lovely wife Ellie passed away one week ago today from lung cancer. Ellie as DazzlerAs p.o.t.-ers may remember, she really liked the x-men-- she'd filled in the 15 years or so of gaps in my collection from the 70s-90s via ebay by the time we'd been together a few months. I made this picture of Ellie as Dazzler for her birthday invitation two years ago.

I love you, Ellie.

For Easter..... LEGO Jesus

Wouldn't it have been cool if Jesus Christ, after his crucifixion three days earlier, had been resurrected in the form of LEGOs? Like, the same human form and visage, same eternal love and compassion on the inside, but made out of LEGO bricks?

How our Easter traditions might be different today....

American cable TV news

British comedian/columnist/writer Charlie Brooker takes a look at TV news.

Precise Cheops Angles

Guys, can we put away the snark for a minute and focus on something important? Something like, oh, I don't know, your very wellness? I know from personal experience that most of you have complained at one time or another of tired blood and feelings of unwonted vagueness. Or maybe you buy some produce and it doesn't last as long as the sticker says it will. Whatever the problem is, you've only yourself to blame from this point forward, because for the first time since Ancient Egypt, mass-produced pyramids with precise Cheops angles are available on the Internet. In point of fact, these pyramids are even better than their stoney forebears for two salient reasons: 1) they've been supercharged by Tesla coils; and 2) they are not built by shiftless semitic slave laborers.
There's even one for the bedroom. And tuning fork therapy resources.
You're welcome,
Lungclops (retired)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

"Boobie Volleyball"

"Boobie Volleyball" is about a losing junior high school volleyball team that makes their teacher promise to show them her boobs if they win an upcoming tournament. The trailer presents the film, which opens in Japan on the 18th, as a charming coming-of-age story.

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper says commemorative "Boobie Volleyball" obentos were available at Friday's advance screening.

The Asahi article includes a photo of the obento. One of the food items looks remarkably like a boob!!

Here's an English language film summary.

I wonder what would happen if Hollywood made this movie for the U.S. How would the religious right react? Or everyone else?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Michelle Phan's Make-Up Tips

I think if I were a girl, I would find the makeup/no makeup choice to be a really daunting one. I mean, what's the occasion-threshold? My friend Annie says that I'm probably a no make-up person, but I would probably wear some at weddings, and possibly job interviews. I guess if you have to think about it from early on, from when you're a little girl, then you're prepared to make the choice when the time comes. Maybe. I'm more comfortable in my Doom armor than with my shirt tucked in.

And maybe that's what this is. I don't know! I put this vague, open question to the members (and readers) of Pieces of Things who are ladies and drag queens. What is makeup?

Also, please watch this tutorial. As well as Michelle Phan's other videos. Makeup for Glasses and Anime Eyes are good places to start. There are a couple of super-choice moments, that will astound male and female viewers alike. For many reasons, some less obvious than others, I find I cannot look away.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Church Sign Generator

If you haven't seen this tool before, then you've probably seen the results. I played with Church Sign Generator longer than was probably good for me.


Chick Tracts - Now Embedable!

I know helpwillcome used to collect these. I bought some boxes one year and gave out assortments as holiday gifts. You know why I like them? Not only do they illuminate the evils of homosexuality, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, atheism, Catholicism, science, and witchcraft (wow, seriously?); they also shine a pretty bright spotlight on the seething, frothing foundation of hate that so many Christians build their faith on!

It's a pretty brilliant business model. He is effectively selling weapons to both sides! Go Jack Chick!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fun Moments From the 2009 First Hawaiian International Auto Show

(With apologies to those of you who have heard me rant about this already.)

So the 2009 First Hawaiian International Auto Show didn't have a lot of concept cars or anything, probably because we live on an island, and/or because U.S. automakers probably figured it would be in bad taste to suggest that they had any ideas or anything. Anyway, guess what's back in style, according to the American car companies? Big giant cars! Trends are so funny!

Oh good. They're making a Hummer pickup truck so assholes can drive around the city and not haul their asshole stuff. Upshot: This truck seats fewer assholes! Not that many fewer assholes, but when you're out and about, every asshole that stays at home counts.

The 2009 Escalade from Cadillac is easily one of the biggest SUVs I've ever seen. Good news, though, it gets 21 miles to the gallon, the equivalent of a regular-sized car (with shitty mileage). How, you ask? Well, because it's a hybrid. You know how I can tell? Because there's a huge fucking plaque on the side of the thing telling you so. I swear, the thing could have gotten 22 or 23 mpg if it didn't have to haul this giant stupid visible-from-space HYBRID badge around.

Speaking of Hybrids: Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Honda Prius!

I was all set to make fun of this car, but now that I think about it, there's something just a little bit right about having a Corvette painted like a Trapper Keeper.

One kind of neat/disorienting thing about all the cars there--The tires were all very, very clean.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Naked Dawn

Hey, look! When our Age of Empires teammate Shawn Booth isn't engaging in bloody vendettas in Colonial America, he makes movies! He was Director of Photography on this Funny or Die parody trailer with Rob Schneider and Mena Suvari: Naked Dawn.

Warning: there are butts.

Photos from UH Astronomy Dept. LEGO Thing

Thanks for the tip, Helpwillcome! There was other cool science stuff there, too, like egg drops and 3-D imaging that made you want to barf and soda bottle water rockets and the hands-on-but-strangely-uneducational "Make a Comet" activity. Also, Fugu came closer to tracking down his old Master Sensei, who disappeared into the Infrared Spectrum many years ago.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I just realized that I've never seen a post about pro wrestling on here before, and with Wrestlemania 25 going down tomorrow, this seemed like a good time to have one.

Surely you all were WWF fans back in the heyday of the 1980's, right? I fondly remember wanting to be Jake the Snake Roberts and simulating the DDT on my brother on our parents' king-size bed. Rowdy Roddy Piper was another favorite.

Here's a nice retrospective of past Wrestlemanias.

Let's get ready to rummmbulllll!!!

Game Design

Hi! I just wanted to see if you guys have any feedback on this problem I'm having while designing my strategy game. I showed this screen shot to Mr. Pony:

He said, "Litcube, this is poop. Here is why. It is because the perspective of the buildings do not match the perspective of everything else." Mr. Pony did not say exactly that, though. He said something far more polite and composed. I respect Mr. Pony's opinion, and I respect your opinion, too! So I changed it. Based on his semi-recommendation, I did this:

This is what you call dimetric. It is not isometric. Isometric is a pain in the ass in video games for many reasons. These tiles are twice as long as they are high, and you can see the green tool-tip outlining on of the tiles, if you click on this image for full view. There is no vanishing point, and because we're working on a 2D plane, and the building of buildings is going to stay on one plane, we're ok with using this perspective.
However, the background image looks funny, and something looks off. I don't quite know what. Can you artist types tell me why the tiles look funny on this background?
Please ignore the "buildings", and the fact that the building panel overlaps the field. I'm in design stage, and objects are quickly slapped together to gain functionality.

If you dudes have any ideas, suggestions, or images, or you'd like to see your art in a game, it'd be sweet if you could submit with examples or a background that would fit this perspective better. I wouldd love it. If you want. I am not an artist. But you are!

LEGO Exhibit at UH (!)

Anyone here going to check this out tomorrow? Click here to see the video preview

Astronomical family fun — and Lego — in Manoa

It’s not just astronomers who like big numbers.
Each year, about 19 billion Lego bricks are produced. With more than 400 billion pieces worldwide, if stacked on top of each other, that’s enough to connect the Earth and the moon 10 times over.

If that fact gets your brain buzzing, head to the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy in Mänoa tomorrow. You won’t find a ladder to the moon, but you will find a giant Lego moon base built by astronomer Roy Gal and fellow members of the Lego Enthusiasts Association of Hawaii. The exhibit — possibly the largest Lego moon base on Oahu — will be set up in the Moon Room as part of the annual IFA Open House.

Friday, April 3, 2009

An article concerning the concept of "Plot" versus "Story" found on the io9 Science Fiction Website.

Though The online Science Fiction community gets my hackles up in a bunch, I found this article to be interesting, despite being minimally informative. Hope you enjoy, and that we can discuss.

"No es mano". A recreation of a scene from the film Pan's Labyrinth in Lego bricks.

No es mano.
Originally uploaded by Sir Nadroj

I just wanted people to know that dramatic things are being done in LEGO. In case people didn't know.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Catan, the board game

Well that settles it, I'm interested. First Panic talks about this (although to be honest he rattles on about anything with hexagons), and now it's in WIRED as the "perfect German board game" and the "monopoly killer". I'm not sure what that means but it sounds awesome.

Anyone ever play this thing? More to the point, anyone have this and want to play?

I love love love his work.

I am greatly enamored of the work by illustrator Alessandro Baronciani. If your soft insides are also stirred by his reductive brilliance, please see more here.

p.s. Though I prefer some of his earlier (now unavailable) prints, I'm buying that Supergirl silkscreen-new economy be damned.

BrainPOP Financial Literacy Movies