April 20, 2015
Giant Rubber Duckie — 8 Feet Tall!
What's not to like?
[via 7 Gadgets]
April 19, 2015
"A Beginner's Guide to Invisibility"
... just what is invisibility? Is it the condition of being transparent, so that all light passes through you undisturbed? Or of being cloaked in something all-concealing, like Harry Potter sneaking around Hogwarts? Or does it mean to be incorporeal, so that you exist but are made, like a thought, of nothing? Or does it simply mean to be overlooked? Is it always a property of whatever is unperceived, or can it be a limitation of the would-be perceiver? And why do we count as invisible the things that we do? Ghosts, gods, demons, superheroes, ether, X rays, amoebas, emotions, mathematical concepts, dark matter, Casper, Pete's Dragon, the Cheshire Cat — what is all this stuff doing in the same category? And why have we ourselves expended so much imagination and energy in trying to join them?
If you are put off by magical methods for turning invisible, there are two other basic strategies available to you. The first is through technology; the second, through psychology. In a pattern you might recognize from the rest of life, the technological methods are exciting, expensive, and iffy, while the psychological methods are cheap, effective, and underappreciated.
In nature, the most successful invisibility technology, after being invisible, is camouflage. Perhaps you have seen a stick insect sitting on a stick, or a leaf-shaped katydid hanging from a branch — but probably you have not, so well do they blend in. Yet theirs is nature’s least and lowest kind of camouflage. When a flatfish hovers in the water, Ball tells us, sensors on its underbelly register the color and brightness of the surface below — information the fish uses to reproduce the look on its upper body, so that it matches its background. Some cephalopods see that trick and raise it, rather literally: they can change not only color but also texture, developing bumps or ridges (or, conversely, smoothing out) to mimic their surroundings. You can kill an entire workday watching videos of octopuses emerging from their hidden state [top]; they look as if they have opened a door in space-time and are sliding back into the ocean from some other dimension.
“The technology involved in making anything invisible is so infinitely complex,” [Douglas] Adams wrote in "Life, the Universe and Everything," "that nine hundred and ninety-nine billion, nine hundred and ninety-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a trillion it is much simpler and more effective just to take the thing away and do without it." By contrast, he noted, there's nothing easier than getting a human mind to ignore something it doesn't want to see. Thus was born the example par excellence of psychological invisibility: the Somebody Else's Problem field, which, by means unspecified, amplifies our natural desire not to deal.
Adams was not the only writer to exploit psychological invisibility. It's as popular in fiction as capes and cloaks and rings. The Shadow, who débuted in the nineteen-thirties as a pulp-fiction crime fighter, cannot technically turn invisible, but he can "cloud men's minds" so that they do not see him. The time machine in "Dr. Who" generates a "perception filter" to keep passersby from noticing it. (The show's creators had a little fun with varieties of invisibility. The perception filter, they tell us, was originally intended as just an extra layer of security, since the time machine also has a "chameleon circuit" to make it match its background. Alas, that circuit broke, leaving the machine stuck, famously, in the shape of a nineteen-sixties-era London police box.)
April 18, 2015
Long Piropiro Lung Exercise Tool
From the website:
Expand your lung capacity with the Long Piropiro Lung Exercise Tool, a unique fitness tool that stretches up to 1 meter when you blow into it.
If you are hard of breath or feel the cold easily, strengthen your physique at home just by blowing on this tool ten times a day.
There are markings along the tool so you can see how far you have achieved.
Features and Details:
• Materials: paper, polyester, etc.
• Length: 3.3 feet (approximately 1 meter)
• Made in Japan
"... hard of breath or feel the cold easily...": what's not to like?
April 9, 2015
Karl Ove Knausgaard: Coming to America
This Norwegian author, 46, whose six-part novel/memoir made him instantly famous in his home country when the first volume appeared in 2009 — over 500,000 copies of his books have been sold there, in a country whose population is about 5 million people — and subsequently around the world as his work was translated, was recently commissioned by the New York Times Magazine to visit the U.S. and write about his experiences.
Try one, you might like it.
In any event, cheap at twice the price.
April 8, 2015
Paper Towel Holder with Integrated Timer
€39.95 (paper towels not included).
[via The Green Head]
April 7, 2015
What is it?
Answer here this time tomorrow.
Hint: a bit larger than most bread boxes.
Another: moving parts.
A third: contains no event horizon.
April 6, 2015
A windy day in Shanghai — 91 stories high
Above, window cleaners working on the 91st floor of the 1600-foot tall Shanghai World Financial Center (the seventh highest building in the world, pictured below) encounter unexpected violent winds which tossed their scaffolding through the air for some 15 minutes until they were rescued.
April 5, 2015
Popcorn Bowl with Kernel Sifter
What took so long?
A stoneware bowl with a perforated bottom to filter out the old maids before they wreak havoc on your teeth.
10.75"D x 5.5"H.
$75 (popcorn not included).
April 4, 2015
Walk This Way
Spotted by Sheila Larkin at Glendalough, Co.Wicklow, Ireland.
Wait a sec... what's that music I'm hearing?
April 3, 2015
Tsunago: the pencil sharpener that creates a never-ending pencil
From Spoon & Tamago:
It's an odd thought. Pencil sharpeners make pencils shorter, bringing them one step closer to their inevitable last day. But this pencil sharpener actually creates a never-endingpencil.
The inherent problem with the humble pencil is that you can never use it till the end. There are always leftover stumps that become too small for your hand and must be thrown out. Sure, in the grand scheme of things it doesn't seem like a huge deal. But through the lens of the Japanese spirit of mottainai — a sense of regret over waste — there were some who would not rest till this problem was solved. And now, it looks like a small pencil sharpener manufacturer has come up with an ingenious solution.
Osaka-based Nakajima Jukyudo is one of the only companies in Japan focused on making only pencil sharpeners. They use high quality blades and their sharpeners are renowned for being easy to use. But their latest product, called Tsunago ("Let's connect") solves the age-old problem of having leftover pencil stumps.
The pencil sharpener has 3 different holes: one is a regular sharpener but the other two create a hole and a protrusion (often written as dekoboko, or 凸凹, in Japanese) which create a perfect interlocking joint. A little wood glue seals the bond completely and you have a brand new pencil. The company is still working out distribution, but plans to begin selling the sharpener shortly (pun intended) for 1,620 yen.
April 2, 2015
My latest root canal
Two days ago (Tuesday, March 31) I had my eighth (8!) root canal (the first was in nineteen ninety-eight (1998!).
Call me twisted but I absolutely love lying there with with my eyes closed for a couple hours while he does God knows what inside my mouth: a sense of supreme competence is palpable.
April 1, 2015
Gary Dahl, inventor of the Pet Rock, is dead at 78
You say you weren't even alive then? My bad.
For those of us who were, Margalit Fox's obituary in yesterday's New York Times makes the intervening 40 years seem like a flash.
I wonder: could something just as simple and inane happen today?
Methinks yes indeed.
the then-38-year-old Dahl, a down-at-the-heels advertising copywriter when he hit on the idea.
March 29, 2015
From the website:
The Sushi Socks are just how they sound: socks that look like Japan's most famous food. The colorful leg wear fit almost all sizes and are based on actual popular sushi. This is a set of six, kind of like when you get a mori-awase platter in a sushi restaurant. They can be folded up to look like pairs of sushi on a plate, the white part of the sock looking like the rice, while the "fish" being the colored patterns.
There's salmon, tuna, octopus, shrimp, sea urchin, and salmon roe in this set. A fantastic gift idea, just be careful not to try to eat them.
March 28, 2015
2029 — The world in cities
[via Bruce Sterling]
March 24, 2015
Made from Icelandic sheep wool in Glófi, a small knitting factory in Iceland.
94" x 10.5" (240 cm x 27 cm).