Archive for August, 2008

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Color Blindness Still Rare Internationally

[ Comments Off ]Posted on August 28, 2008 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Whatever happened to the United Colors of Benneton?

Yesterday I found myself wondering whether people would be saying so much about Barack Obama’s elitist attitudes if he were white. For the answer to that question, all you have do is look around the world a bit. The racist commercial at left (from; is it funny, or dye?) is not unique in southeast Asia. It wasn’t very long ago that they changed Darkie brand toothpaste to Darlie, and (as pointed out in this article by Tamara J. Walker), one of the most popular snack brands in Mexico is Bimbo Negrito, traditionally promoted with a blackfaced native girl holding a spear (they’ve since updated to a hip-hop kid with a ‘fro). So, since it seems to be here to stay, here are some charts to help you draw the lines of color in your life. First, the UN Environment Program has conveniently provided a geographical skin tone map, so you can move to an area that best suits your level of prejudice. Once you’re there, fine-tune your skin color preferences with von Luschan’s skin color chart. Don’t worry, wherever you move, they’ll probably still sell your precious Uncle Ben’s and other racist products. Happy coloring!

Hala Strana & The Mysterious Track-04

[ Comments Off ]Posted on August 27, 2008 by admin in Music

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Name that tune and I’ll give you a dollar

Recently a photographer/artist friend of mine (Robin Vincent, check out some cool photography here) gave me a cool mix on CD and accidently sent me on one of those maddeningly gratifying searches for music that involves spending a hundred bucks when you really had only set out to find one CD. If you’re into exploring the fringe of low-tech, ambient/atmospheric music (things like Tim Hecker spring to mind) you have to check out Hala Strana , which – although other artists collaborate on the project – is essentially a solo project by Steven R. Smith. In the Hala Strana recordings, Smith utilizes the intrumentation, arrangements, and sometimes samples of music from Eastern Europe to create some magical atmospheres that often sound like a lost soundtrack from a Krzysztof Kieslowski film. If you like the general feel of Hala Strana, you might want to peruse the other artists on the labels Soft Abuse, Emperor Jones, or Jewelled Antler. Personally I’m still on a bit of a quest here; the song that got me all started on this was the haunting and mysteriously (un)named track 04. That’s a link to a lo-fi mp3, if anybody can tell me which CD this is actually on and what it’s called, I’ll give you a dollar. So much music, so little time.

I Found Jesus In My Latte

[ Comments Off ]Posted on August 27, 2008 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

No, it’s not a new song by Willie Nelson, it’s a latte art printer.

It’s always cool when a barrista takes the extra effort to at least make a classic apple or rosetta in your crema. Inventor Oleksiy Pikalo is taking it all to a new level, with his DIY Latte Art Printing Machine. I was a little surprised that someone with such an enterprising mind would already be trying to sell out to Starbucks through their My Starbucks Idea site, a sort of on line suggestion box… Imagine if after the Starbucks staffer finishes correcting you on how you refer to their sizes, you have to make a decision on whether you want a regular crema or an art crema: “I’d like a lowfat grande Miley Cyrus almond latte with an extra shot, hold the whip”. Even more surprising to me is the fact that Starbucks has a suggestion box in the first place. Not surprising is the fact that the number one suggestion is lower your prices! For more images of crema art created by his machine, see this collection from SIGGRAPH 2008. NOTE: On behalf of purist crema artists out there, it’s only fair to point out that this machine actually uses caramel-colored liquid to achieve the images, not deft manipulation of a dynamic media like tiny bursting bubbles of hot milk.

Add A New Dimension To Your Life

[ Comments Off ]Posted on August 26, 2008 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Retina torturing, optical nerve-twisting looks at the 4th dimension and optical illusions

Life feeling a little two dimensional? Try hopping over to the fourth. This series of videos, although presenting explanations of the fourth dimension that will make your optical nerves snap, is also somehow calming. Produced by resarchers at The ENS Lyon, they’re presented in an almost pastoral style in terms of pace and narrative. Put aside a good 15 minutes to take them in if you decide to check them out. For some equally compelling but less smoothly produced retinal torture, check out this clip demonstrating some perception-bending, M.C. Escherian six-point perspective. And for a quick eye-twister, try to convince yourself that there’s only a single grid spinning in this image (full size version of image at left). Most people see anywhere from five to eight. That last one is legit, in spite of being brought to you by the guy that recently pulled of the iPhone hologram hoax.

Darwin On The Playground

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on August 26, 2008 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

That which does not kill me…
will try again a minute later.
- Eric Brown

I’ve joked for some time that the recent generation which has grown up with padded playgrounds would be the dumbest generation since the dark ages. It’s just common sense that natural selection killed off all the dumb kids of my generation by letting them play on our lethal playgrounds. Seems like this sentiment is gaining some popularity. Good Magazine has an article in the current issue that addresses the topic a little more seriously. Referring to an experimental “Adventure Playground” in Berkeley, CA: “…There are no hidden risks here…by forcing kids to assess the possibility of risk, they play more safely while also learning how to take care of themselves…” and “…You kill their creativity by hovering too close…”. Makes sense to me, but as a kid I did experiments like jumping off the roof to see if an umbrella would work as a parachute. Cost: sprained ankle, wind knocked out. Benefit: Immense fun, and proof that rough play doesn’t ALWAYS kill the stupid kid. In a similar vein, this LA Times piece reminisces about simply going out to play, apparently a lost art. Hell, in my day (I love saying that), when adults weren’t busy throwing us off the dock as a swim lesson, they were fond of telling us to “go play freeze tag on the freeway”. Most of us survived.

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