A la Planchette

A la Planchette

The interior of the Bradbury Building in downtown L.A. has been in dozens of movies and tv shows including, perhaps most notably, Blade Runner.

The building was commissioned by a wealthy gold mine magnate by the name of Lewis L. Bradbury (no relation to Ray apparently).

Bradbury offered the commission to a draftsman with no architecture training called George Wyman, who refused, presumably because he did not actually know how to do architecture.

However, after he and his wife used a planchette to contact his dead brother Mark during a séance, he received the message:

Mark Wyman / take the / Bradbury building / and you will be / successful

The design for the building was then based on Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward:

Many believe Wyman was inspired by Edward Bellamy, whose 1887 novel “Looking Backward” described a building of some future time. “A vast hall of light,” Bellamy wrote, “received not alone from the windows on all sides but from the dome, the point of which was a hundred feet above…. The walls were frescoed in mellow tints, to soften without absorbing the light which flooded the interior.”

Where would the private eyes of the forties have been without laurel shrubberies to lurk in, sweeping front drives to turn the car in, terraces from which to observe the garden below, massive Spanish Colonial Revival doors on which to knock, and tiled Spanish Colonial Revival interiors for the knocking to echo in, and the bars of Spanish Colonial Revival windows to hold on, or rambling split-level ranch house plans in which to lose the opposition, and random rubble fireplace walls to pin suspects against, and dream-bedrooms in which the sun may be seen rising in heart-breaking picture-postcard splendor over the Hollywood Hills…and the essential swimming pool for the bodies.

—Reyner Banham, Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies

If I were an American, I should make my remembrance of it the final test of men, art, and policies. I should ask myself: Is this good enough to exist in the same country as the Canyon? How would I feel about this man, this kind of art, these political measures, if I were near that rim? Every member or officer of the Federal Government ought to remind himself, with triumphant pride, that he is on the staff of the Grand Canyon.

—J.B. Priestly

Dismissed as Lightning

The New Forest coven were a group of Neopagan witches or Wiccans who allegedly met around the area of the New Forest in southern England during the 1930s and 1940s. According to his own claims, in September 1939, a British occultist named Gerald Gardner was initiated into the coven, and subsequently used its beliefs and practices as a basis from which he formed the tradition of Gardnerian Wicca.…As the Neopagan religion of Wicca developed in the latter decades of the twentieth century, some of the figures who were researching its origins, such as Aidan Kelly and later Leo Ruickbie, came to the conclusion that the New Forest coven had never existed, and that it was simply a fictional invention of Gardner’s to provide a historical basis for his new faith. The historian Ronald Hutton accepted this as a possibility, although recognised that it was not “implausible” that the coven had indeed existed.


One of my favorite things about Wicca is I can’t decide which I like more: the idea that it is a revival of some almost-totally-lost esoteric pre-Christian Northwest European folk-religious tradition or the idea that it was invented from whole cloth, complete with its own vast moth-eaten musical brocade in the 20th century.

Plus MAX FACTOR Sounds Like Such A Fake Name

Plus MAX FACTOR Sounds Like Such A Fake Name

Most people are on the whole CV Dazzle-type stuff right now as a way to frustrate increasingly common face-detection software (More chilling example), but this history from Cabinet about how makeup has been used to make sure very limited imaging and transmission technologies can still communicate human emotions is a pretty interesting flipside. Film and TV makeup is essentially solving the reverse problem of CV Dazzle: how can I make this person’s mental state and identity as obvious as possible to a human viewer, given significant image degradation?

I thought this might be from a Mary Reid Kelley shoot.

Content-Aware Typography

Content-Aware Typography

Adobe’s Content-Aware Fill meets type-heavy images in Content-Aware Typography.

See also Tei’s recent experiments with panorama mode and Apple Maps

Also Known as Detroit Agate

Also Known as Detroit Agate

“Fordite” is what people call lumps that build up on paint racks that have been slid in and out of spray booths hundreds of times. The lumps are formed of layer upon layer of thick bright auto paint. After they’re cracked off the racks, people polish them, carve them or turn them into things like cuff links, pens, and rings. See also this graffito-based analog.

HP’s version: pdf.

The 20th Century

The 20th Century

Walt Disney, left, and Wernher von Braun, right. Dr. Werhner von Braun, then Chief, Guided Missile Development Operation Division at Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, was visited by Walt Disney in 1954. In the 1950’s, von Braun worked with Disney Studio as a technical director, making three films about space exploration for television. A model of the V-2 rocket is in background.

The mid-20th century is really starting to feel remote. Look at those guys. Look at the airplane and missile. They look like Conestoga wagons. Drawings of them should be used on nostalgic pet food packaging.

( via Wikipedia)

Not Even a VARCHAR(255)

From a blog post titled “Baby Name Law: Can You Name Your Child ‘Toilet Queen’?”:

“Length restrictions: Some states explicitly limit the length of names due to ‘technological limitations associated with its electronic data.’ In Massachusetts, for example, the full name is limited to a total of 40 characters.”

Presumably it all goes back to MUMPS.

“The new band went through several names: Kalinin Prospect (after an avenue in Moscow); CAD (Computer-Aided Disco); and Tech-Noir (French for black technology, after a nightclub in the film The Terminator).”

The Wikipedia page for Ace of Base

The Buzzer

There’s a numbers station called UVB-76, also known in English as “The Buzzer” from the buzzy noise it makes.

In Russian, it’s called “жужжалка” which means “The Hummer”. I like this because it is onomatopoetic and then onomatopoetic again. I don’t know what the word is for that. But “жужжалка” definitely looks like how this radio station sounds.

I just saw a trailer for a new thriller about numbers stations.

White Alice

White Alice

Boswell Bay, Alaska White Alice site, tropospheric scatter antenna and feeder

Before satellites were invented, the USAF used to send messages beyond the horizon by bouncing radio waves off the troposphere. These “White Alice” antennas were left around Alaska when the system was obsoleted by rockets.

The Murderous Marsupial Lion

The Murderous Marsupial Lion

It’s been a while since we’ve had any Thylacinidae content on this blog and, let’s be honest, we usually stick to the Thylacinus genus.

From this amazing blog Paleoillustration (“Mostly paleoart, but sometimes I post speculative biology too.”):

The murderous marsupial lion, from thylakos (pouch-lion), carnifex (murderer, tormentor, butcher) was a large, carnivorous marsupial mammal that lived in Australia from the early to late Pleistocene Era. Despite its name, it wasn’t part of the cat family, but was more closely related to wombats. it was one of the apex predators at its time, and probably fed on early man
( via @bruces)

Smells of Adventure & Distant Horizons

“Truck simulation games are definitely very niche, and indeed historically such games have always been the target of ridicule among hardcore gamers, much more so than flight simulators or train simulators for understandable but not so simple reasons,” Sebor says.
“Perhaps the fact that our games may be ridiculed in the UK but loved in Eastern Europe is down to the fact that a trucker may be considered a low-prestige job in the UK (and a target of Jeremy Clarkson [Top Gear presenter] jokes),” he reasons.
The further East you go, he notes, “the more this job smells of adventure and distant horizons - plus it’s perhaps paying better than average in those countries.”

Interview with the Developers of Euro Truck Simulator 2

( via mefi)