Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides and writes for This American Life, The Atlantic, Breakfast on Mars, and The Magazine. You can follow him at chrishiggins.com.
Build Blog normally covers architecture and design, in their traditional, adult sense. But for the past few months they've occasionally dipped into tongue-in-cheek analyses of couch fort architecture, using photos of real couch forts built by kids, found online. There are now three essays: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. They read like design critiques of student work, pointing out flaws in the design, strengths of classical design, and often referencing design principles I've never heard of. My favorite... READ ON
If you've been checking out web videos in the past two years, it's a good bet that you've seen Simon's Cat, a video series by animator Simon Tofield featuring the adventures of a man and his cat. Tofield does all the animation and sounds (including the meows) himself. I'd seen the original video (called "Cat Man Do"), but was surprised at how many other videos Tofield has done over the years (and apparently he even has a book). So tonight, for your viewing pleasure, I collect all the Simon's Cat videos... READ ON
So I've seen a tornado form, and, like an idiot, just stood there staring at it -- until it started moving towards me, at which point I ran, and felt the wind pushing at my back, until I was about a half mile away. That was an exhilarating (and scary) experience; the tornado was fascinating and strange, like the winds had become a creature. A creature that, unfortunately, might kill me.
So today I bring you, via the Bad Astronomy blog, a fire tornado that occurred near Mauna Kea in Hawaii. This... READ ON
Fermat's Last Theorem is one of the most famous math problems in history, as it remained unsolved for well over 300 years -- and Fermat himself, before his suicide, had written a margin note claiming he had a solution. Fellow _floss blogger Casey Johnston described FLT like so last year:
In 1637, Pierre de Fermat scribbled a note in the margin of his copy of the book Arithmetica. He wrote (conjectured, in math terms) that for an integer n greater that two, the equation an + bn = cn had no whole... READ ON
In this 80-second video, you'll see stagehands hastily assembling a set for Saturday Night Live. Early on, they get a 35-second warning and someone says over an intercom, "We're screwed." You can listen as they do the final ten-second countdown and people desperately move more furniture into the set, throw pillows in strategic places, and then hold the flat behind Fred Armisen by hand (you can see it wobbling as he starts to talk). Sheer madness, and amazing. This is live TV, folks.
(Via... READ ON
The first full-length color movie (Becky Sharp) was released in 1935. But thirteen years earlier, Kodak made a short film test, photographing actresses vamping for the camera -- in color. It's a fascinating look into the fashion (at least the movie fashion) of 1922, and the lack of audio makes me wonder what the women are saying (any lip-readers out there?). Most curious are the poses being struck -- the woman around 2 minutes in (Mae Murray, I think) has a variety of strange poses in her repertoire,... READ ON
I'm a big fan of AMC's Mad Men. I've been watching it faithfully since its debut. But one thing has been bugging me since the third season -- the "next on" segments at the end of each episode reveal virtually nothing about the plot of the next episode. They're a kind of dada art in which the producers of the show show clips of unrelated dialogue; even if you know exactly what's going on with the show, they don't show enough actual interaction to figure out what the next episode is about. It's almost as... READ ON
I saw Scott Pilgrim last week and thought it was a fun romp. In the video below, YouTube user AEmovieguy has combined the audio of the Scott Pilgrim trailer with video from the three Matrix movies. Note that this is probably only funny if you've seen the real Scott Pilgrim trailer or the whole movie. Here's what the creator has to say:
Once upon a time, while serving as battery fodder for machines who've imprisoned the human race to a cyber reality, Scott Neo Pilgrim met his dreamgirl, Ramona... READ ON
In 1996, MECC released Oregon Trail II, an updated version of the classic Oregon Trail computer game. In the new version, a historian added various details, and some attention was given to women and minorities (who were, if I recall correctly, completely absent from the early versions of the game). The video below was included on a "Collector's Edition" release of Oregon Trail II, and it's part documentary, part promo for the new game. It's worth a look, as it recounts 25 years of Oregon Trail gaming... READ ON
In this video, filmmaker Ann Prum describes how she and her team made a Nature documentary about hummingbirds using high-speed HD cameras and specialized lenses. It's exquisite footage, and reveals surprising truths about the hummingbirds -- like what goes on when one encounters another at a flower (hummingbird fight!), and how scientists study hummingbirds both in the wild and captivity. For example, did you know that hummingbirds catch and eat insects for protein? And did you know it's insanely hard... READ ON
There are 293 ways to make change for a U.S. dollar.