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)

Do You Like Our Owl?”

"Do You Like Our Owl?"

This stuff is so much stranger than skeumorphic interfaces.

The Sensu Artist Brush was created from a desire to have an authentic brush to use with drawing and painting apps on the iPhone and iPad. The revolutionary technology uses special synthetic brush hair that is infused with conductive properties to produce real-life paint effects in your apps.

JetPens has an interview up with the guy who leads the shop that designed it, called Developed by Artist Hardware:

We have favorites and revel in the fact that they improve and update frequently. In these apps, watercolor really behaves like watercolor, oil paint looks like oil paint. The Sensu brush takes that reality up another notch.

So, there exists software that uses complex modeling to simulate the interaction of watercolor and oil paint with various surfaces. Look at what went into Paper by Fiftythree’s color picker.

The difference in our brush is that we bring this understanding of artist brush making to this new tool. We spent a lot of time worrying about how it felt to paint. We made a tool that you can feel on the screen as it makes contact. It’s very responsive like the best sable watercolor brushes.

Hmmm what are these “best sable watercolor brushes”?

The hair is obtained from the tail of the kolinsky (Mustela sibirica), a species of weasel rather than an actual sable; The finest brushes are made from the male hair only, but most brushes have a mix of about 60/40 male-to-female hair. Kolinsky bristles tend to be pale red in colour with darker tips. The weasel is not an animal that is raised well in captivity, and is generally isolated to the geographical region of Siberia. Due to this difficulty in harvesting the hair, and the fact that other natural and artificial bristles are not comparable in quality, makes these bristles extremely valuable and consequently expensive. Those who use the kolinsky sable brush claim it has superior strength, slenderness, and resilience when compared with other sable brushes.

Presumably, the problem here, besides cost, is that the tail fur of a Siberian weasel does not have the right dielectric κ-value to trigger the iPad’s capacitive touch screen, so a synthetic substitute had to be developed.

Meanwhile, the reason I came across this is that I was looking on Jetpens for something that could duplicate the functionality of Paper’s watercolor tool on physical paper. I’ve never really used watercolors before but I like how they work in Paper and I was like “hmmm maybe I could get whatever real-life thing these are based on?”