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.
So here's something that happened. Back in the 70's and early 80's, Chicago gang members had their own business cards. Created using clip art on a low budget, they're kind of a riot -- many feature heavy metal, unicorns, axes, and other stuff generally considered "awesome" by teens in of the era. Some are overtly racist, homophobic, xenophobic, or otherwise disturbing -- but fewer than you'd think. Check... READ ON
On April 26, 1986 a massive accident occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in what is now the Ukraine. A nuclear reactor exploded, sending radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and killing more than 50 people, with another 800,000 exposed to radiation and increased risk of cancer. Around the Chernobyl plant is a 30-kilometer Zone of Alienation (I'm not making this name up), established to prevent people from entering the most heavily contaminated area (and hurriedly evacuated, as you can see by... READ ON
Here's a short clip featuring Jamie Lee Curtis, in which she describes a 25-hour power outage during a family vacation in Idaho. When the outage occurred, the family rallied to make food, melt ice for water, and so on. "My family played music, we played games, we actually talked to each other." Once the power came back, they all turned back into internet-addicted zombies.
When Was the Last Time You Turned Off the Juice?
I can't remember the last time I was -- intentionally or unintentionally... READ ON
"All the sounds are the actual audio from the original video tape. No alterations has [sic] been made other than basic timeline editing. I can neither play drums nor the piano." So ends Lasse Gjertsen's YouTube masterpiece "Amateur," a music video in which he creates a genuinely good song out of individual drum beats, cymbal hits, vocal hoots, and piano notes. I got this from the excellent Word Surgery blog, where animator/videographer Torrey Meeks points out all sorts of awesome stuff (much of it... READ ON
I'll be writing about The Pluto Files, a NOVA program coming in March, over the next couple of weeks. But I thought I'd point you to this breaking news -- in the video below, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Brian Williams, and Diane Sawyer have a thing or two to say about Neil deGrasse Tyson demoting Pluto from its planetary status way back in 1999. This is not over,... READ ON
Want to have a laugh? Then please get yourself over to Garrett Murray's That's Not Art, a scathing indictment of angsty pseudo-art posted on Tumblr blogs (I refuse to say "Tumblogs" as that's a pseudo-word). Yes, we're laughing AT these people, but come on, this is... READ ON
"A long, long time ago...I can still remember how that music used to make me smile." So begins Don McLean's "American Pie," a 1972 song about the death of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, J.P. Richardson ("The Big Bopper"), and pilot Roger Peterson in a tragic plane crash. If you don't know the full story, check out Miss Cellania's excellent post about the day the music died. Below, check out McLean's song, and some performances by the artists who died fifty-one years ago today.
"American Pie" - Don... READ ON
In what is nominally a book review, chess grandmaster (and lately, politician) Garry Kasparov discusses how computers have changed chess. Famously defeated by IBM's Deep Blue in 1997, Kasparov railed against computer chess in the 80's and 90's, but now he has some perspective on the matter, and shares his deep knowledge of the subject in The Chess Master and the Computer. This is a really interesting article for those interested in chess, computers, or other games (like poker) where computers are... READ ON
(Image of Machu Picchu courtesy of Martin St-Amant - Wikipedia.)
Airing tonight (February 2, 2010) at 8pm on PBS stations: NOVA's Ghosts of Machu Picchu. Set your DVRs now! If you miss the program, it will be streaming online starting February 3.
Machu Picchu is an Inca engineering marvel: located 8,000 feet above sea level, it contains 200 stone structures placed on a complex set of roughly 700 terraces. What's most surprising is not its buildings, though -- it's all about what was built... READ ON
This is brilliant: British journalist/humorist Charlie Brooker presents a recipe for reporting the news in the two-minute clip below. From the video: "It starts here, with a lackluster establishing shot of a significant location. Next, a walky-talky preamble from the auteur, pacing steadily towards the lens, punctuating every other sentence with a hand gesture, and ignoring all the prigs milling around him like he's gliding through the [censored] Matrix, before coming to a halt and posing a question:... READ ON
ABBA had to negotiate the rights to their name with a canned fish company.