Saturday, October 24, 2009

Going to Dune

GBNC is going to Dune! Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and the rest of the Emirates, as a matter of fact. Two weeks of exploring for us.. expect the next updates here in November!

(pictured above: Dubai Tower, the tallest building in the world, and the surrounding building sites, as seen on Google Maps)

Google Maps: Burj Dubai

Alien abduction lamp

Loved this ever since the first designs were posted: The alien abduction lamp by designer Lasse Klein. Limited run of 2000 pieces only, available on the home page.

Alien Abduction Lamp

Abandoned missile base

I'm a big sucker for abandoned facilities, even more so when it comes to military installations. Here's some new photos from such from the English Russia blog.. I'm mostly intrigued by those missile charts shown here.

English Russia » Abandoned Military Object

Civilization on Facebook

Oh my, even more posts on Facebook to ignore: Sid Meier just announced a Civilization for Facebook:

Ever since we finished Civilization® Revolution™ last year, I’ve been looking at ways of expanding the Civ gameplay experience to include solo, competitive and cooperative play to take advantage of the uniqueness of social networks. We’re calling this project Civilization® Network™ and the full game will be available next year on Facebook.

I can't really imagine how this is going to work, so far all the Farmvilles and Mafia Wars on Facebook are nothing but annoying to me. But it does sound interesting.. let's give it a chance when it comes out.

Civilization Fanatics' Forums - View Single Post - Announcing Civilization Network!

Pollution in China

These look like the backdrops for a dystopian movie, but in fact these photographs are part of photographer Lu Guang's documenting of pollution in China. Even more shocking are the photos of the inhabitants of nearby cities, stricken by cancer and other maladies caused by the pollution of the environment.

Amazing Pictures, Pollution in China | ChinaHush

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Protector fight scene

Speaking of action movies: If you haven't seen the Thai movie The Protector (starring Tony Jaa), go out and find yourself a copy. If this 6 minute continuous fight scene (shot in one go without cuts) doesn't convince you, there's tons of limb-breaking, over-the-top scenes in the movie that will make you and your friends go Whoop! like a football stadium.

The Expendables trailer

Not sure if it's going to be a good movie, but it does look like good clean fun: The Expendables, featuring Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc etc.

The Daily What: Moving Trailer of the Day

Next-gen Captcha

I can't decipher most of the regular Captchas already, so I wouldn't feel so bad about not being able to pass this one as well. Usually, doing an action which requires a Captcha to perform, is just as well not gone through with (registering to some random web site.. posting an image on Facebook.. or "adding" a "friend" on Myspace or similar.. will we even remember spending time on this in a couple of years from now?)

Blame It On The Voices: Are you human?

Dog, soldier, sailor

The Ingoing: a dog, (ahem) a sailor, and a soldier, W. Eugene Smith

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Augmented reality iPhone app

This kind of "augmented reality" application makes it hard not to own a smartphone: it shows you on the screen where to find the nearest subway station and how far it is away. Also, if you point it down, you see the actual lines running around you. It's nifty and exactly what you need to get around in places you are not familiar with.

'Nearest Tube' Augmented Reality iPhone App: Science Fiction in the News

Permissive action links

Funny how sometimes you actually learn something from playing video games: One mission in the Fort Constantine level in Fallout 3 involves the launching of a nuclear ICBM (inter-continental ballistic missile, the launch code for which is "00000000". As it turns out, the so-called "Permissive Action Links" (another word for security locks to prevent unauthorized launches) for the nuclear arsenal of the United States were kept at all zeros until 1977. Another stunning account of Bruce Blair, whose Nuclear Recollections I have posted about recently.

Keeping Presidents in the Nuclear Dark (Episode #1: The Case of the Missing “Permissive Action Links”) - Bruce G. Blair, Ph.D.

50 years of space exploration

National Geographic published a map to keep track of all space missions in the last half century. Sean McNaughton created this handy infograph that includes all missions in the solar system and also the Voyager and Pioneer probes that have already put billions of kilometers between Earth and them. The full-size map is available here.

Map of the Day - National Geographic Magazine

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gas band

English Russia » War Chronicles

The periodic table of science fiction

In 2002, science fiction author Michael Swanwick wrote a collection of 118 very short stories titled The Periodic Table of Science Fiction. The stories were commissioned for Eileen Gunn's The Infinite Matrix but were published in the Sci Fiction section of Each story is named after an element in the periodic table and based around it, ranging from humorous recountings to chilling accounts. The whole collection is available online.

The Periodic Table of Science Fiction

Writing a jacket into existence

I came upon this very interesting anecdote about the jacket one character in Gibson's book Pattern Recognition is wearing. Cayce, the protagonist in the novel, is "allergic" to fashion, brands and logos, so she is wearing a Japanese replica of an US Air Force flight jacket from WWII. Apparently the model she is wearing (a Buzz Rickson's MA-1) was not actually produced in the color black by the company, but as a writer you can make things come into existence:

Some time after the book was published, I recieved a very puzzled letter from the folks at Buzz Rickson's, who had been getting requests for black MA-1's. Once I had explained what was happening, they amazed and delighted me by asking my permission to make a repro of *Cayce's* jacket, to market as their Pattern Recognition model. Yes indeed, I said, and while you're at it, cut me one with an extra four inches in the back, please. Which they did, and it's over the back of a chair nearby as I write this. I love this jacket. (...)

People who complain about the very high cost don't understand the degree of sheer lunatic obsession that goes into these things. You are very unlikely to ever wear another piece of clothing this well-made. I know I never have. (They are actually better than the 1950s USAF originals, which were only finished to military contract standards.) They spent a million dollars, when the company started up, on machinery to reproduce 1950s USAF-spec Crown zippers. Nobody outside of Japan is very interested in paying for that, they told me, smiling. They have found their niche-market, bigtime.


These are really magnificent jackets. In fact, their whole line of clothes is amazing, and fortunately their is even some stores that sell the brand online.

Buzz Rickson Flight Jackets & Selvage Denim Jeans

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nuclear recollections

Dr Bruce Blair recounts his past as a missile operater for nuclear ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missiles). It's strong, scary stuff.

It's nerve-wracking because it's easy to make a critical mistake. If we decoded a message incorrectly and dialed a single wrong digit into the computer that targeted our missiles, we might attack and destroy cities instead of rural missile silos in Russia. We could have easily killed millions of civilians by mistake.

We were usually still processing checklists when a warble tone signifying an incoming missile attack would be heard on our loudspeaker. We would hurriedly, sometimes frantically, strap into our chairs. In the real world, we would expect a violent shaking of our capsule mounted on giant shock absorbers. But in the mock run we were blasé and continued to race through the checklists.

We knew there was a system to the madness. The drill led us inexorably up the ladder of escalation, from a minor fire or incident to a full-blown order to unleash all 50 missiles. We had been conditioned, like Pavlov's dogs, to expect certain war orders to flow in a certain sequence, culminating in the launch of all 50 missiles. It was classic conditioned reflexes with absolute psychological certainty that it would all end in a hypothetical all-out nuclear war.

Nuclear Recollections - Bruce Blair's Nuclear Column - CDI

Bullets in slow-mo

Here's a video of bullets hitting stuff, filmed by German engineer Walter Mehl at a rate of 1 million frames per second.

The Daily What: Lights Out: Super-ultra-slo-mo footage of bullets

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Polish posters

Here's a site selling Polish posters for movies, theaters, opera, etc. Unlike the Ghanese movie posters I posted a while back, where the fun is in them being so crappy, many of these posters take a more artistic approach, often based on one small element from the story instead of the often iconic or bombastic approach of movie posters in the West. There is an immense selection of striking artworks in their web store, and placing an order for me was not far behind discovering the site for the first time.

Polish Posters Shop - Posters For You - From Poland