Attention K-Mart Shoppers
Jan28

Attention K-Mart Shoppers

Found via Open Culture is a collection of tape cassettes (digitised by Mark Davis) sent to K-Mart stores in the late 1980s and early 1990s to play over the shop speaker system; muzak and store announcements that you can close your eyes to and transport yourself back in time (and, in my case, to a culture only glimpsed on TV and in the movies.) The collection of K-Mart tapes can be found at the Internet Archive here:...

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Star Wars: The Premake
Dec19

Star Wars: The Premake

John D’Amico has made a shot-for-shot remake of the original Star Wars movie using clips of films and TV programmes that all predate the science fiction classic’s creation in 1977. Star Wars: The Premake from John D'Amico on...

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Which Way Is The Bus Going?
Dec12

Which Way Is The Bus Going?

Which way is the bus in the following image going? And remember, by answering you may be openly admitting that you’re a...

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The Daesh Magazine Dabiq
Nov21

The Daesh Magazine Dabiq

Whether you call them Islamic State, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, or CystISIS, the group responsible for – and proud of – a reign of terror in the Middle East and beyond (though, apparently, without thinking through the economics behind running a state through fear where everyone is trying to flee it reducing the prospects of the type of production needed to keep it going) produce a glossy propaganda magazine designed to entice in the easily-confused to their brutal ranks. You can find the issues of Dabiq in PDF form here: http://www.clarionproject.org/news/islamic-state-isis-isil-propaganda-magazine-dabiq. It should go without saying that some imagery in the magazines might not be for the sqeamish and all of the writing in them might not be for people with rational...

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American Football Analysis
Oct28

American Football Analysis

Many, many moons ago I wrote a fairly popular article explaining American Football for beginners. For more advanced and ever-so-slightly more useful analysis of the sport of American Football as well as explanation of some of the terms used I can recommend Inside The Pylon. If you’ve already got an interest in the sport but aren’t that familiar with the terms “‘A’ Gap” or “Cover 6” or you’d like to see a breakdown of just why a recent play worked out the way it did then it’s a great source of football...

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KIC 8462852
Oct14

KIC 8462852

Reported elsewhere but I’ll link to Phil Plait’s blog about the story here: Did Astronomers Find Evidence of an Alien Civilization? (Probably Not. But Still Cool.) A star – the titular KIC 8462852 – has produced some very strange observations that are difficult to explain right now but do present some intriguing (with care) possibilities. Most likely, of course, are natural ones that we’re not able to observe thanks to the distance involved (around 1500 light years) but there’s an unlikely-but-appealing argument for something a little more unnatural too. The observations are dips in the star’s light output, the means by which we typically detect planetary transits. As a rule these are periodic and the drop in starlight is a tiny percentage as planets are considerably smaller than the solar bodies they orbit. In KIC 8462852’s case the drops are irregular, sometimes dip slowly then rise quickly, and in a few cases dip by huge amounts (22%). Look at our own civilization. We consume ever-increasing amounts of power, and are always looking for bigger sources. Fossil, nuclear, solar, wind… Decades ago, physicist Freeman Dyson popularized an interesting idea: What if we built thousands of gigantic solar panels, kilometers across, and put them in orbit around the Sun? They’d capture sunlight, convert it to energy, and that could be beamed to Earth for our use. Need more power? Build more panels! An advanced civilization could eventually build millions, billions of them. […] But it raises an interesting possibility for detecting alien life. Such a sphere would be dark in visible light, but emit a lot of infrared. People have looked for them, but we’ve never seen one (obviously). Which brings us back to KIC 8462852. What if we caught an advanced alien civilization in the process of building such an artifact? Huge panels (or clusters of them) hundreds of thousands of kilometers across, and oddly-shaped, could produce the dips we see in that star’s light. The odds are low, but it’s a big universe out there. More observations...

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