Archive for Entirely Too Cool

A truly World Tour

I’ve done a few road trips in my day, often designated by the phrase “World Tour,” though none of them ever left the States (there were some close approaches) and the longest one was a commute short of 5,000 miles.

Proposed road trip from London to New York

Still, this gets me thinking:

Vladimir Yakunin is the head of Russian Railways and he’s got a big dream.

According to CNN, he is proposing a superhighway that will allow transportation from Nome, Alaska to Russia by crossing the Bering Strait. The highway will then take travelers to Moscow and ultimately end in London.

Dubbed the Trans-Eurasian Belt Development (TEPR), “a theoretical drive from London to Alaska via Moscow might cover about 12,978 kilometers (8,064 miles),” reports CNN. In total, if you traveled from New York to London, you would cover approximately 12,910 miles.

Downside: this glosses over the fact that the Bering Strait, at its narrowest point, is more than 50 miles across. Fortunately, it’s not necessary to build a single 50-mile span; the Diomede Islands sit in the middle of the strait. And while icebergs as such aren’t a threat, a six-foot-thick ice floe can play hell with a bridge.

Also downside:

Right now, the plans haven’t been approved, and with Yakinin estimating the cost to be trillions of dollars, no one has generously stepped up to foot the bill.

Quelle surprise.

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What happens in Las Pegasus

Further evidence that pony subsumes all:

Britney Spears in Las Vegas, and the pony equivalent in Las Pegasus

Even the timing — the MLP:FiM screen comes from “Viva Las Pegasus,” which first aired on 17 September — is exquisite.

(With thanks to Twilight Farkle.)

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Reach to exceed grasp

This spiffy little device from Ettore is called “Grip ‘n Grab”:

Grip 'n Grab Amazon photo

The physical-therapy folks hinted that they’d be ordering one for me, but I figured it wasn’t going to happen, until yesterday when one of them (the 32-inch version) showed up on my porch in an Amazon box.

It wasn’t from the therapists, though. It was an anonymous gift, with a brief paragraph from the unknown sender, including this:

This gift symbolizes what I would like to do: give you a hand in this difficult time.

I think I know who sent it, but I’m not going to nose around. And I’ve already paid this forward on behalf of an underemployed Twitter friend.

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One minute to autodestruct

Is this cool, or what?

The possibilities aren’t exactly endless, but they are impressive:

Phonetic recording allows producers of future Star Trek media to re-assemble individual syllables said by Barrett so the late actress can “say” entirely new things. Hopefully we’ll hear her in Star Trek: Discovery‘s LCARS System.

It would also be great if we could hear Barrett on our smartphone, much like Apple’s Siri voice. Custom smartphone voices are hard to get right now, but one day we might be able to download custom voices from the Apple Store. And it looks like [the] Roddenberry estate is trying to make one of those custom voices that of a Star Trek ship computer.

Um … WANT.

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Everything in numbers

This might be where things got a little bit out of hand: a digital sundial. Yes, really:

Then again, why the heck not?

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Beyond the little black dress

In fact, beyond much of the universe. This astronomer has an image from the Hubble Deep Field imprinted on her dress:

Hubble deep field dress

She swears she found it at Macy’s.

(Via TYWKIWDBI.)

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Honestly, I hadn’t heard

A St. Louis-area dealer group knows the word, or at least the syllable:

I caught a fragment of this between innings in a Cardinals game, and had to track it down. Of course I did.

Addendum: They also have a Chevy dealership in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

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Ready for Brace class

Not news: Irish wolfhound mother gives birth to seven puppies.

News: Two of those puppies are identical twins:

[S]omething was different about this delivery. When he started the procedure, [Dr. Kurt] de Cramer noticed that the wolfhound had an unusual bulging by her uterus.

At first, he thought the lump was excess fluid surrounding a foetus. De Cramer painstakingly extracted this foetus from the bulge by making an incision into the dog’s uterus.

That was when the real shock came. He found not one, but two foetuses. They were both attached with umbilical cords to the same placenta.

Five siblings followed in single file, connected to five separate placentas.

It is thought that identical twins are rare because, when two foetuses share one placenta, they do not get enough nutrients from the mother and are therefore less likely to survive.

For instance, identical twin foetuses have been reported in horses, but none have survived. A horse’s placenta is not efficient enough to transport oxygen for two foetuses.

Citation: DOI: 10.1111/rda.12746.

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Prepare for your head to hurt

Migraine-detecting dress designed by Grace BuckwalterIt’s kind of stylish in an early-80s TRON way, but it’s far more than eye candy:

[I]t’s sometimes difficult to tell when a migraine is coming on.

To help her mother, 15-year-old Grace Buckwalter decided to find a way to help detect a migraine before it starts. She has designed a dress that changes colors based on brain activity. Grace says, “It’s like a mood ring, but a dress.” Her efforts have resulted in a great deal of attention, including local television and TEDxLancaster.

How does it work?

The dress has a very special accessory, a headpiece that Grace borrowed from the game Mindflex. In Mindflex, the headpiece uses electroencephalography (EEG) technology to steer a Styrofoam ball through an optical course. With the dress, the headpiece interprets brainwaves, then transmits data through a circuit into a microprocessor. The microprocessor then emits light of different colors through optic fibers incorporated into the dress. There are six optic fiber bundles on the dress with colors scaling from red to blue to purple to green. Grace says that the meditation fibers turn red if the wearer is nervous and green if they’re relaxed.

Says Grace, the project took about 40 hours of work, at a cost of about $150. She will wear it at TEDxLancaster on the 10th of September.

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Goodness, that looks complicated

But I suppose it has to be. Watching a machine manufacturing lace is kind of startling:

Warren Meyer apparently visited the Lace Centre in Bruges.

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Grace of our hearts

I admit to a certain weakness for teenage, and even subteenage, girl singers, for some reason I’d just as soon not know. When they write their own stuff, even more so. Keeping that in mind, please take a look at Grace VanderWaal, twelve, from Rockland County, New York:

The Golden Buzzer got her to this point:

Is this the next Taylor Swift? I don’t know. I’m not sick of the last one yet. But damn, this girl can sell a song.

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Turning aukward

This has its disquieting aspects, but it still sounds like a neat idea:

It was last seen on British shores 200 years ago — but the great auk could soon return.

An international team of scientists has met to discuss reintroducing the flightless marine birds onto the Farne islands off the north-east coast of England.

Of course, they’re extinct, so this will take some serious DNA work. Fortunately, there is auk material to work with:

There are a number of Great Auk museum specimens to work with — 71 skins, 24 skeletons, 75 eggs, and even some preserved internal organs and ancient fossil remains.

And there’s some enthusiasm for the project:

Matt Ridley, a science writer who chaired a recent meeting where the plans were discussed, told the Telegraph: “Effectively the great auk is the only European breading bird to go extinct in the last 500 years.

“It’s one of the very few flightless birds of the northern hemisphere and it obviously played a very important part in the ecosystem of the North Atlantic. It would be rather wonderful to feel that we could bring it back.”

Just … be careful.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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The final frontier

Who knew there was so much space in one of those wheeled carry-on bags?

Me either. But watch:

Just the same, I don’t think I want to be there when she opens it back up.

(Via HelloGiggles.)

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Groceries 2.0

For the first time in two months, I had to restock groceries today, a task I was not at all feeling up to, what with this whole not-walking scheme. A friend suggested yesterday that I should try the Walmart Online Grocery system, and while I am not overly fond of Walmart, I am less fond of traipsing through a store when my traipsing equipment is below par.

So last night I went to the Web site they’d set up just for this function: grocery.walmart.com. Apparently it gives you the option to order online if it detects your IP address as being near one of their participating stores. (I am not quite two miles from the Belle Isle Supercenter.) The user interface was fairly intuitive, bumping up quantities was simple, and I rang up 18 items in short order. What’s more, since I’m a new customer and all, they knocked $10 off my initial over-$50 order.

I set pickup for today at 1 pm. At precisely a quarter to one, they called me to remind me. The instructions: call when you’re within 10 minutes of arrival. There are dedicated parking spaces on the side of the store. I called in, described my car (nothing you don’t already know), and took a space in the middle. Within about a minute they’d brought out a cart with all my goodies and loaded up the trunk. (Well, almost all my goodies; they’d substituted A&W root beer for Mug. I was fine with that.) Standard rule: “chemicals” (dish soap, for instance) are stashed on the right side. I was home before 1:30, though it took me three trips across the garage to move a dozen plastic bags of stuff out of the trunk. And apparently I got a price break on one item between last night and today.

Would I recommend this? If you have no emotional objections to all things Walmart, then certainly. The selections are somewhat limited compared to what’s in the store, but I noticed no items that were conspicuous by their utter absence. They did give me a small bag of samples I might want to try. And yes, there’s the inevitable survey: but it has only one line.

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Please don’t tab away

I was looking up Nissan OEM automatic transmission fluids here, and then tabbed away for a moment. The tab changed, and this was the text under it:

Z1 Motorsports Rickroll via Javascript

Yeah, I laughed. I admit it.

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A somewhat hairier version

It is common knowledge that I hang with the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom under the name of Dusty Sage, and about four years ago I used one of those cute online generators to produce a ponysona. That was good enough for a while; but I wearied of it, and when the noted artist LeekFish announced she was taking commissions, I asked her to knock out a sketch based on my original design but looking less artificial.

Which she did:

Dusty Sage as envisioned by LeekFish

I am quite pleased.

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It’s not very mobile, but so what?

Actually, it’s about the size of a portable TV, and with good reason. Still, it’s a swell idea:

Namibian Grade 12 learner Simon Petrus is making waves after he invented a mobile phone, which uses radio signals and doesn’t require airtime to make calls.

According to New Era, Petrus, who is a learner at Abraham Iyambo Senior Secondary School, made the phone using parts from a telephone and television set, and his invention doesn’t even need a sim-card to make calls.

The mobile device took the whiz kid two years to complete, and it has not been plain sailing for the young inventor, who faced financial difficulties. The project was funded by Petrus’ unemployed parents, who had to sacrifice over N$2000 (US$146) to ensure that his project would be completed successfully.

This is not Petrus’ first bright idea, either:

Last year he won a gold medal at the NamPower schools’ competition, held at the national level, for inventing a two-in-one machine that works as a seed drier and cooler.

That, I’d like to see.

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Sometimes you choose a pet

And sometimes a pet chooses you:

Thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign, Dion Leonard, an extreme marathon runner, is adopting a stray pup he met while running a 155-mile race in the Gobi desert in China. The funds that were raised will help cover medical and quarantine expenses so that the dog can be transported from China to Leonard’s home of Edinburgh, Scotland.

The female dog, who Leonard appropriately named Gobi, joined Leonard on day two of the annual 4 Deserts Race Series and ran side-by-side with him for 77 miles, according to The Independent.

It didn’t seem to be a random choice, either:

[H]e had noticed Gobi running with 101 runners during the first day, but on the second day, Gobi was on the start line, looking up at him.

A friend in China is currently caring for Gobi; he hopes to bring the dog to Scotland before the end of the year.

(Via Keaton Fox.)

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Not sure where this is going

But you’re sure to be singing when you get there:

Welcome to Twangville

(This is all over Pinterest, but never with any explanation or source.)

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Space program

It’s cumbersome, but it creates a parking space that did not exist before:

(Seen on reddit.)

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Hominy and understanding

A wonderfully Hair-y sign:

This is the awning of the cage of asparagus

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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What’s that noise?

I think I might be slightly creeped out if I were told I would be working in this building:

I did have to check its papers, of course:

The Gate Tower Building (reportedly known locally as “The Beehive”) is a 16-floor office building located in Fukushima-ku, Osaka, Japan. Construction was completed in 1992. As the photo shows, the Umeda Exit of the Hanshin Expressway passes through the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors. Elevators reach the upper floors by moving along the sides of the building. Besides the elevators and stairways, there do not appear to be any office spaces on floors 5 through 7.

The highway never actually touches the building, thus they are two completely separate structures. A structure covers the highway which supposedly blocks out noises and vibrations from effecting the rest of the tower.

What you want to know, though, is why?

This unusual construction is the result of a compromise which was reached during the 1980s, when redevelopment of the area hit an impasse. A freeway was in the planning stages, but difficulties arose when negotiating with property rights’ holders. Finally in 1989, building codes were revised to include a “Multi-Level Road System” which allowed for this unusual structure to be built.

I can imagine something like this in Austin, Texas, where roads become congested within ten minutes of being built.

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This is acting

I wasn’t even close to imagining this:

I admit it, when I first heard about this casting, I imagined that the pony might look more like Maddie Ziegler. Apparently not.

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It’s weaponized!

With bacon, the question always is “What can’t it do?” See, for instance, this oh-so-British incident:

On her way to the market, an 86-year-old woman stopped by an ATM, according to the Greater Manchester Police’s Facebook page via Time, and when she started off home, she wasn’t alone. As she pushed her cart full of groceries out of the store, she was “challenged by an unknown female who grabbed her trolley and demanded the money she had withdrawn.” Instead of handing over the pounds, the elderly woman beat the thief with meat until her attacker ran away. Who knew bacon was so lethal?

[insert “meat beating” joke here]

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Compatibility ho!

Yes, of course, let’s do this:

And why not make 802.11 work with something that existed two decades before 802.11 itself?

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The Fortress is still Super

Between 1943 and 1946, 3,888 B-29 Superfortress aircraft were built. Two are now considered airworthy, including this big fellow:

B29 in 2016

At approximately 8:30 AM CDT on Sunday morning, the worldwide fleet of flyable B-29s doubled when Doc lifted off from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas culminating a restoration project that began sixteen years ago at the factory where the airplane was built initially in 1944. Piloted by the Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) Charlie Tillman and co-pilot David Oliver, Doc joined the CAF’s Fifi as the only two Superfortresses of the 3,888 produced between 1943 and 1946 which are airworthy. Doc returned to the air 60 years after its last flight in 1956 when it was ferried to China Lake in California, decommissioned and hauled into the desert where it was used as a target for Naval bomber training until 1987 when Cleveland, Ohio printing executive Tony Mazzolini discovered it, largely intact, acquired it and moved it to Wichita.

It was a short flight — about 15 minutes before the first warning light — but it’s nice to know that the old stuff still has the right stuff.

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Eventually you’ll see the light

From the “How is this possible?” files:

Researchers recently made the surprising discovery that a special class of materials called “hyperuniform materials” can be both dense and transparent. This work demonstrates a new way to control light and could lead to novel materials for many light-based applications including solar photovoltaics. These so-called “hyperuniform materials” can be made of plastic or glass that contains light-scattering particles spaced in a disordered, but not completely random, pattern.

In The Optical Society’s journal for high impact research, Optica, researchers led by Rémi Carminati, Institut Langevin, ESPCI Paris and CNRS, France, detail the transparency properties they discovered using computer simulations and outline a theory to explain the wavelengths of light for which hyperuniform materials appear transparent.

Glenn Reynolds caught on to this quickly:

I read a story when I was a kid about glass where the speed of light was measured in years per inch. Looking out a window, you saw what was on the other side of the glass years before.

Yep. Bob Shaw’s “Light of Other Days” (1966), eventually expanded into the novel Other Days, Other Eyes.

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Eye of beef

And the back eye at that. It’s just crazy enough to work:

Scientists have come up with a solution that will reduce the number of lions being shot by farmers in Africa – painting eyes on the butts of cows.

It sounds a little crazy, but early trials suggest that lions are less likely to attack livestock when they think they’re being watched — and less livestock attacks could help farmers and lions co-exist more peacefully.

The new technique is being tested by scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, after they noticed that lions tended to back off when their prey, such as impala, looked at them.

An early trial:

[I]n a small trial in Botswana last year…when the researchers stamped painted eyes onto a third of a herd of 62 cattle, and counted the returning cows over a 10-week period, no painted cows were killed by lions, while three unpainted cows were.

Should this show up in a Chick-fil-A ad — on second thought, never mind.

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Beat ya, kid

The following story has not yet made it to the pages of the Orange Street News:

Scholastic has acquired the worldwide rights to four books by 9-year-old Hilde Lysiak — to be co-written with her father, reporter Matthew Lysiak — and now the film/TV rights are being sold off. Lysiak, who rides around on her pink bike in search of stories, recently rose to fame for being the first reporter to break a story on a murder in her hometown in Pennsylvania. She scooped the local paper on it and, as a result, was awarded the Tribeca Disrupter Award at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Maybe she’ll have something to say about it later.

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Make yourself a meal

An idea by Roberta X takes root, and a tasty root it is:

There would probably be limits on second helpings, purely for logistical reasons.

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