Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Before Google, Here's What New Yorkers Asked The NYPL

It seems like an eternity but only a few years ago people relied on reference librarians to answer their questions. They tackled them all - the easy, the difficult and the downright crazy. The New York Public Library has discovered a box containing old reference questions from the 1940s to 1980 and they'll be posting the questions to their Instagram account on Mondays.

More weird queries at Gothamist

Drone Footage of the Faroese Island of Streymoy

Gorgeous drone footage of The Faroese Island of Streymoy and the old village of Saksun.

Via  Holy Kaw!

Don't Try This At Home

Don't ask me why but the folks at FullMag decided to open a bottle of champagne by blasting the cork with a .50-caliber sniper rifle. They shattered a couple bottles before finally getting it right on the third try.

I'm hoping we are able to pop the bubbly tomorrow with nothing more lethal than a corkscrew.

Via Geekologie

The Complex Charm of Antique Machines

Photographer Kevin Twomey's “Calculators” series exposes the innards of 1960s calculators. The hundreds of complex moving parts inside these machines are a far cry from today's high-tech pocket computers.

These vintage adding machines come from the collection of Mark Glusker, a mechanical engineer.


Margaret: Music Inspired By A Trashbin Find

More than 20 years ago a San Francisco musician named Chicken John Rinaldi found a scrapbook in the bottom of a dumpster along with other contents a house. The scrapbook told the tragic story of the life of Margaret Rucker, poet and daughter of an early Everett, WA pioneer.

Rinaldi mentioned the scrapbook to his friend, musician Jason Webley who is also from Everett. Wembley was also intrigued by Margaret's story and did a bit of digging. He discovered that Margaret Rucker came from wealth and privilege and that she wrote melancholy poetry. She was 43, with two young boys, when her husband shot himself in front of her. She died 9 years later in Burbank and her obituary was contained in the scrapbook.

Webley and a group of his musician friends raised money through Kickstarter and created a powerful music project from the photographs, pages of Rucker's poetry, a telegram from her husband-to-be and newspaper clippings.

Listen to the songs here.

Read more

Via:  MetaFilter

Snowy owl 'epidemic' sweeps across Ontario

Image: north of 49 photography

Following an irruption last year snowy owls have flocked to Ontario in huge, rare numbers for the second consecutive year.

When I was a little Nag my mother's brownie leader name was Snowy Owl but I have yet to see one in the wild. Perhaps I'll see one this year.

More: CBC News

How Champagne Gets Its Bubbles

There are over 600 different chemical compounds that make champagne bubbly. This video from Reactions, the video channel of the American Chemical Society, explains the chemistry of champagne.

Via Neatorama

Monday, December 29, 2014

101 Things To Watch For In 2015

My friend, Alan Parker, has compiled 101 events that will definitely  happen at specific times in 2015 because "Even if these things don’t bring you comfort, at least they provide a bit of structure to what will almost certainly be another turbulent year."

Check out the Nosey Parker calendar. You'll find some interesting stuff.

Special Operations Executive

Special Operations Executive (SOE) was a secret British Second World War organisation created in July 1940.

Following the fall of France, Prime Minister Winston Churchill tasked Hugh Dalton with forming SOE with the instruction to 'set Europe ablaze', by helping local resistance movements and conducting espionage and sabotage in enemy-held territories.

A Type A Mk III Suitcase Radio used by Special Operations Executive

Suicide phial (cyanide) container
Noor Inayat Khan (code name Madeleine) was the first female wireless operator sent
by Special Operations Executive (SOE) into France, arriving in Paris in June 1943.

The  Imperial War Museums site shows the equipment the operatives used and photographs of the team.

Thanks to frequent contributor Bruce for this story.

How 1950s Women "Weatherproofed" Their Hair

Weather can't weaken it! Water can't wash it out! Curls last until you cut them off!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fake Photo Of Economy Class Flying In The 1960s

image via Works That Work

Back in 2013 I posted the photo above which purported to show the wonderfulness of flying in Pan-Am economy class in the 1960s. I had no recollection of ever flying in such comfort but, hey, it was all over the internet so it must be true. Right? Some commenters quickly set me straight.

 Gizmodo debunks the photo for the second time since folks just won't stop sharing it. Economy class seating actually looked like the photo below which, if you ask me, looks pretty damn good compared to the sardine can seating we are wedged into today

Getty image

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Freelance art director Bartek Elsner makes amazingly detailed sculptures out of cardboard.


Many thanks to Meredith for pointing this out to me.

Friday, December 26, 2014

I'm Here

On Dec. 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota thirty-eight Dakota Indians wailed and danced atop the gallows, waiting for the trapdoors to drop beneath them. The scaffold, built to accommodate the largest mass execution in United States history, swayed under their weight.

“It seemed that the purpose of the singing and dancing was only to sustain each other in their last ordeal,” a witness observed. “As the last moment rapidly approached, they each called out their name and shouted in their native language: ‘I’m here! I’m here!’ ”

The shock waves of that mass execution still reverberate today among the Dakota people. Each year at this time a group of Dakota ride on horseback to Mankato to remember the executed warriors.

Dakota 38 is a film about their journey.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


Image: Titanic in Photographs, by Daniel Klistorner, Steve Hall, Bruce Beveridge, Art Braunschweiger,
and Scott Andrews

This 1909 cross section is an illustration of plans for the Titanic and its sister ship, Olympic. The early concept included radial-type davits, a first-class gymnasium, and barbershop shown situated on F Deck, as well as the large, dormitory-style third-class accommodations, which would mostly be replaced by two-, four-, or six-berth cabins when the ships were built.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Day The Pintupi Nine Entered The Modern World

"In 1984 a group of Australian Aboriginal people living a traditional nomadic life were encountered in the heart of the Gibson desert in Western Australia. They had been unaware of the arrival of Europeans on the continent, let alone cars - or even clothes."
In the 1950s when the British began conducting missile tests over the Western Desert region, the Australian government rounded up the desert nomads and resettled them. Somehow this family was overlooked.

Read their fascinating story at BBC News 


A Sleepover At Galeries Lafayette In Paris

How would you like to spend a night under the beautiful stained glass dome at the Galleries Lafayette the night before the famed January discounts begin? Six lucky people will win an evening with a personal shopper followed by dinner. A full French breakfast will be served the following morning in good time for shopping - complete with a €200 gift voucher - before the doors open to the masses outside.

Enter the Air B&B contest.

More: The Independent

Surfing Santa marks 30 years with smooth sailing

Yesterday John Fulton, Canada's Surfing Santa, put his paddle board into the water and prepared himself for smooth sailing across Lake Erie from Canada to the U.S. and back. This marked the 30th anniversary of Fulton making the trek in order to raise awareness of homelessness in Niagara. This crossing was smoother than some he's made. In the past he's had run-ins with border patrol in the U.S., and was even arrested one year for illegally entering the States.

More: Niagara Falls Review

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Selfish Christmas!

Ayn Rand apparently sent Christmas cards but none are included here.  Alternet has provided some Christmas images with her mean spirited  quotes affixed to them.

The Japanese Family That Runs a 1,300-Year-Old Hotel

Houshi Ryokan, a traditional japanese style hotel, was founded around 1,300 years ago and it has always been managed by the same family since then. This documentary directed by German photographer Fritz Schumann is about the family that has  passed down the Houshi Ryokan from generation to generation. Founded in 718, the hotel is the oldest still operating family-run business in the world.

Houshi (english) from Fritz Schumann on Vimeo.


5 Year Old Girl Digs Princess Leia's Slave Outfit

Has adorable discussion with her dad about Jabba The Hutt's fashion sense.

Animation by The Brothers McLeod


Monday, December 22, 2014

Landspeeder Cat Bed

This cat bed made by Roxy's Dream  looks like a high mileage landspeeder from the Star Wars movies. The cat looks like my cat Joyce.

More pics here.

Via Neatorama

Man Carves Pliers Out Of Wood

David Warther, the son of a master carver, shows that he is no slouch at carving. He makes wooden pliers using just ten cuts with a simple pocket knife his dad designed in the early 1900s.

Via Gizmodo

How Christmas crackers were made in the 1930s

There is still time before Christmas to make yourself some home made crackers - if you start right now and work steadily until the big day!


Surgical Suture Sampler

Surgical suture sampler, circa 18th cen.
Photo credit: Ickybitty’s photo stream 
"This antique sampler from the Medical History Museum in Zurich represents a variety of stitch techniques appropriate for different anatomical regions and types of injury. Both the embroidery and the illustrated backing are rendered in remarkable detail."


Sunday, December 21, 2014


Did you have hours of fun with Spirograph? I know I did.  Inspirograph is a digital version of the classic toy. Start creating. You know you want to.


World's oldest wild bird gives birth at age of 63

Laysan albatross named Wisdom, the world’s oldest known free-flying bird, hatched her latest chick at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge at the ripe old age of 63. Experts believe she could have raised as many as 35 chicks in her lifetime - and she is showing no signs of stopping.

Wisdom was officially tagged by scientists in 1956 and has since recorded more than 3 million miles flying around the coast of Hawaii and beyond.

More: Daily Mail Online

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Red Green's Christmas Turkey Bake

In this clip from It's a Wonderful Red Green Christmas Red shows you how to make a complete Christmas dinner without a kitchen.

Vivaldi Motet Nulla in mundo pax sincera in E major, RV630 by Anke Herrmann

A little moment of calm in this hectic season.

The Auteurs Of Christmas

Fourgrounds Media Inc. and Suitcase in Point Theatre Company created this video showing Christmas morning through the eyes of various film directors.

If you liked that you can see Part 2 here


What If Manhattan...

More than 1.5 million people live in Manhattan. If this happened to all of them, would you notice? The Hamdi Foundation, a charity operating in conjunction with UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, released a YouTube video illustrating the scale of the Syrian Refugee crisis by showing what 1.5 million people leaving Manhattan would look like.

Via: The Presurfer

Pub Dog

This little guy knows how to get what he wants.

Via everlasting blort

The Blue And The Green

Do you see embedded spirals, right, of green, pinkish-orange, and blue in the photo above? Actually you don't -  the green and the blue spirals are the same color.  Bad Astronomy loaded the image in Photoshop and examined the two spirals. In the two squares displayed below, the one on the left is colored using the same color from the blue spiral, and on the right using the green spiral.

Read more about this illusion here


Star Wars Snowflakes

For four years Anthony Herrera has been designing Star Wars Snowflakes  to download for the holidays.

Han Solo

Jabba The Hut
This year he has also created Frozen Themed Snowflakes for your Christmas enjoyment! What fun!

Throw a snowflake party. Have sharp x-acto knives and lots of bandaids on hand.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Victorian Christmas Cards

With the printing of England’s first commercial Christmas card in 1843 a new seasonal tradition was launched. That card and others are in the Laura Seddon Collection at Manchester Metropolitan University. Here are a few creepy cards from from its archive.

More: The Guardian

Rebecca Rütten's Junk Food Art

Contemporary Pieces is a series of 5 Portraits and 5 Still Life photographs by German-born artist Rebecca Rütten that brings to mind classic paintings of the Late Renaissance period.

Thanks Bruce!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

LOTR Inspired Litter Box & Cat Scratching Post

Every other week, some of Hollywood's top prop makers build one-of-a-kind items for super-fans of comic books, video games, movies, and pop culture.. This week, in celebration of the release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies they're building a Hobbit-hole Bag End kitty litter box and an Eye of Sauron scratching post! The LOTR super-fan and his cats were suitably impressed.

Derby the dog runs with the help of 3D printing

Derby the dog was born with underdeveloped front limbs, and wound up at the Peace and Paws Dog Rescue shelter in Hillsborough, N.H. when his owners decided they no longer wanted him. Tara Anderson, director at 3D Systems, a company that specializes in 3-D printing, took Derby in as a foster and decided to find a solution to his mobility limitations.

Monopoly Had Anti-Monopolist Origins.

Thomas E. Forsyth

The game of Monopoly has been around for a long time. The accepted story is that an out of work man named Charles Darrow invented the game during the Great Depression. He sold it to to Parker Brothers Games and became wealthy.
But the truth is that Monopoly began years earlier as The Landlord's Game and was meant to teach people about social injustice. In 1904 Lizzie Magie, a stenographer and typist at the Dead Letter Office, received a patent for the game, a square board with nine rectangular spaces on each side, set between corners labeled “Go to Jail” and “Public Park.”
"Players circled the board buying up railroads, collecting money and paying rent. She made up two sets of rules, “monopolist” and “anti-monopolist,” but her stated goal was to demonstrate the evils of accruing vast sums of wealth at the expense of others. A firebrand against the railroad, steel and oil monopolists of her time, she told a reporter in 1906, “In a short time, I hope a very short time, men and women will discover that they are poor because Carnegie and Rockefeller, maybe, have more than they know what to do with.” "
Magie found a publisher to sell the game but handmade bootleg copies of the game were made and it was a Quaker iteration that Darrow copied and sold to Parker Brothers in 1935. Darrow and Parker Brothers made a fortune off the ripped off game.
In the 1940 census, taken eight years before she died, Magie listed her occupation as a “maker of games.” In the column for her income she wrote, “0.”

More: Smithsonian 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Young Fidel Castro Wrote FDR to Ask for 10 Bucks

In November 1940, Fidel Castro sent a handwritten letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Writing in English, Castro congratulated the president on his reelection and requested "a ten dollars bill green american…because never, I have not seen a ten dollars bill green american and I would like to have one of them." Thinking strategically, the future Cuban dictator also offered access to his country's iron to build American ships.

Mr Franklin Roosvelt, President of the United States. 
My good friend Roosvelt I don't know very English, but I know as much as write to you.
I like to hear the radio, and I am very happy, because I heard in it, that you will be President for a new (periodo).
I am twelve years old.
I am a boy but I think very much but I do not think that I am writing to the President of the United States.
If you like, give me a ten dollars bill green american, in the letter, because never, I have not seen a ten dollars bill green american and I would like to have one of them.[…]

I don't know very English but I know very much Spanish and I suppose you don't know very Spanish but you know very English because you are American but I am not American.
(Thank you very much) Good by. Your friend,
Fidel Castro
If you want iron to make your ships I will show to you the bigest (minas) of iron of the land. They are in Mayari Oriente Cuba.
The letter resides in the National Archives. An no, FDR did not send him the 10 bucks.

More: Mother Jones

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Amazing Car For Wheelchair Users

Texas attorney Stacy Zoern designed and is now manufacturing an innovative electric car that provides easy access and drivability for wheelchair users. At the push of a remote button the back of the Kenguru car lifts up, and its automatic ramp lowers for immediate entry. The one person car has a top speed of 35 mph and will sell for around $25,000.

More: The Good News Network

The Blind Mice Diary

The Blind Mice Diary is a wonderful story by my friend, the dashing, handsome and talented Steve Vermillion. It appears in theNewerYork. Support their Kickstarter project and help publish an inspiring collection of experimental literature and art. No short stories, no poetry, just weird things with words.

Montreal Metro Restaurant Map

Montreal is my home town but it has changed a lot since I lived there and when I visit I do so as a tourist.Thrillist has mapped out one restaurant for every subway stop that's both awesome and less than a 10-minute walk away.

Check out a blown-up version of the map here, plus details on every spot here.

I'll find this useful when I check out the The Greeks – Agamemnon to Alexander the Great at the musee d'archéologie.

Canada’s new prostitution law explained with toys

John and Sally get busted for prostitution by a police officer who tries to explain the new law.

Via  National Post

Wealth Inequality in Canada

It's worse than we think.

Restaurant Decorated With 10,000 Bones!

 Hueso restaurant in Guadalajara, Mexico is a beautiful white space. Hueso means "bone" and if you look closely you'll see 10,000 cast-aluminum animal bones adorning the walls in bas-relief fashion. But instead of resembling catacombs architect and designer Ignacio Cadena's design is bright and welcoming.

More: Food Republic

Today's Google Doodle

When you go to Google today you'll find the doodle celebrating abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky whose 148th birthday is today.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Nico Sings Lightfoot

Before she joined the Velvet Underground, Nico was hanging with Rolling Stone Brian Jones who introduced her to Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham.  He  signed her to his record label, where a young Jimmy Page was employed as house producer, session musician and A&R scout.

Page produced and played on Nico’s 1965 single for Immediate, a cover of Canadian folkie Gordon Lightfoot’s “I’m Not Sayin’ ” which was backed by “The Last Mile,” a song composed by Page and Oldham. Jimmy Page plays a six-string in the song, while Brian Jones plays a twelve-string guitar. A promotional film for “I’m Not Sayin’” was shot at the site of London’s West India Docks (now Canary Wharf) by Peter Whitehead.

David Zinn's Whimsical Chalk Art

Artist and illustrator David Zinn  has been creating temporary chalk and charcoal street art in and around Ann Arbor since 1987.

You can help get David Zinn chalk art off the street and onto the bookshelf! Click here to contribute to his Indiegogo campaign.

Thanks Bruce!