Data visualization site Proofreader mined a list of Billboard-topping song titles gathered by Bullfrogs Pond to determine the most popular decade-specific words, beginning with the 1890s, through today. Songs from the 1930s, for instance, frequently utilized “Moon,” “In,” “Swing,” “Sing,” and “A,” while songs from the current decade were more likely to utilize more obscene language. The site used some complex equations to determine what qualifies as “decade specific.”
I used the log-likelihood method, which returns a measure of the statistical significance of finding that word in that decade. A keyness of about 11 means there’s only a 0.1% chance that you would get the same result higher picking words from the entire collection at random instead of restricting yourself to the words in that subset (decade), and about 14 is a 0.01% chance.
image via Proofreader
Cards Against Humanity Gives Its Holiday Patrons the Gift of a Parcel of Land on a Private Island Named ‘Hawaii 2′
When Cards Against Humanity fans signed up for Ten Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa, they weren’t expecting a license for their own one-square-foot parcel of land on a private island that Cards Against Humanity bought specifically for this purpose, but that’s exactly what people have been receiving in the mail. The island, which the company named Hawaii 2, sits in St. George Lake, Maine, and recipients were given a stern warning in the license agreement: “If you hurt a tree on the Private Island, we will curse your family for a thousand (1,000) generations.”
Cards Against Humanity co-creator Max Temkin recently told the Chicago Tribune about their decision to purchase an island. “We thought about trying to launch something into space, or doing something visible from space. Eventually that led us down the path of buying a private island, which is something we’ve joked about in the past.”
Other gifts for participants included a personalized Cards Against Humanity card, Miracle Berry packs, and stickers. Some proceeds from the holiday campaign were given to the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that advocates for transparency in government globally.
Thanks, Shelby DeNike!
This was originally an animated comic that looked like this, but I figured this was so much easier and actually delivered the joke better than figuring out how fast each one of you reads.
Slovenia-based artist Miha Brinovec creates precariously balanced stone sculptures in rivers and streams by painstakingly stacking stones by hand. According to Brinovec, the process of stacking stones is his favorite form of meditation, and he recommends everyone try it out. Photos of his stone sculptures are available for purchase. Brinovec’s sculptures are reminiscent of the work of Colorado-based artist Michael Grab.
photos by Miha Brinovec
via Bored Panda
At the 2014 Fête des Lumières, or Festival of Lights (previously) in Lyon, France earlier this month, 75 fantastic light installations were displayed throughout the city. The festival has existed in its modern form–a four-day citywide celebration of lights and lighting art–since 1989. Among this year’s most striking installations: Laniakea, a constellation of thousands of illuminated globes by artists Simon Milleret-Godet and Jérôme Donna, and Color or Not, a vibrant projection-mapping installation on the facade of Cathedral Saint-Jean created by Yves Moreaux. Cool Hunting has more on the 2014 Fête des Lumières.
photo by Nara Shin
photo by Nara Shin
photo by Nara Shin
Margaret is a multimedia project based around the life and writings of an enigmatic poet–Margaret Rucker–who died decades before the project was ever conceived. Born in 1906, Rucker was the daughter of Bethel Rucker, one of the founding fathers of Everett, Washington. Her story came to light through her scrapbook, which was found by Chicken John Rinaldi in a dumpster in San Francisco 20 years ago.
The book, which traces Rucker’s life and includes her remarkably beautiful poetry, fell into the hands of musician Jason Webley. Webley was so taken by Rucker’s story, and in particular her poetry, that he wrote songs for each of her poems. He recruited musician friends to contribute additional music based on Rucker’s life, creating the full-length album Margaret, and a companion book of the same name featuring writings by Webley and Rinaldi. Webley and friends are now taking Margaret on a 2014 West Coast tour:
poster by Dax Tran-Caffee
submitted via Laughing Squid Tips
Imgur user and knitter Otterknot found three large bags of wool at a garage sale, which she turned into rope-thick yarn and then into a giant, fluffy blanket. After lightly felting the wool, she knit the blanket using knitting needles built from large PVC pipes. The result was a huge, warm blanket with stitches so big that it almost creates the illusion that people and furniture under the blanket are miniature.
There was lots of muttered cursing and wondering why I had committed to this project, but once you get in this deep, ya just have to finish!
photos via imgur
Maker Mike Warren has created a beautiful wooden table with glow in the dark inlays that illuminate after being exposed to light. For his table, Warren used a sheet of pecky cypress, a special cypress wood which contains rotten sections that can be easily removed. He filled the cavities with phosphorescent powder mixed with clear resin. Warren has posted detailed instructions on how to make your own glow in the dark table on Instructables.
photos by Mike Warren
submitted via Laughing Squid Tips
In his latest street art installation, Italian street artist BLU has covered two sides of a building in Rome with colorful faces. In many cases throughout the mural, the building’s windows cleverly serve as eyes. According to BLU, he has been living in and working on the building, an old military warehouse, for the past two years. The installation can be viewed on Google Street View. We’ve covered BLU’s work several times over the years, including his twisted veggie blender of death, and his spaghetti brain.
photos via BLU
‘I AM BIG BIRD’, A Film About the Man Who Has Portrayed ‘Big Bird’ and ‘Oscar the Grouch’ for the Past 45 Years
I AM BIG BIRD is a wonderful documentary that tells the incredible story of Caroll Spinney, the man who has portrayed the legendary Sesame Street characters of Big Bird and the ever-irascible Oscar the Grouch since the show’s 1969 inaugural season. Now 45 years later, at the age of 80, Mr. Spinney continues on with no intention of stopping.
Think you know everything there is to know about Sesame Street? You don’t. You might know that Frank Oz turned down an offer to play Big Bird, but you probably don’t know that until a last minute change of heart by NASA, Big Bird was supposed to go to space aboard the Challenger. Or you may know that Oscar the Grouch got his voice from a cantankerous cabbie, but you’d be surprised to learn that a fire in his trash can almost led to Caroll’s untimely demise. Caroll’s stories are the stuff of legend. He has been a constant presence in our lives for over 40 years, his path weaving through American history like that of Forrest Gump. His time inside the Bird has taught him about the world and about himself. I AM BIG BIRD will peel away the instances in Caroll’s life that inspired his creation of characters that influenced generations of children. And, as the yellow feathers give way to grey hair, it is the man, not the puppet, who will steal your heart.
images via I AM BIG BIRD
via Josh Ellingson
Collection Appareils is an incredibly vast online archive of more than 10,000 cameras spanning the history of analog photography. Each camera in the archive is accompanied by a photograph, as well as technical and historical data. The archive is the work of a French camera collector, Sylvain Halgand, who personally owns around 1,800 cameras and has been running the site since 1999. Halgand discusses Collection Appareils in this (French language) Reportages Photos interview. The project can be followed on Facebook.
photos via Collection Appareils
Cereal is a new podcast by author Kyle Scheele that offers a pitch perfect parody of the wildly popular This American Life offshoot Serial (previously), swapping the unsolved story of a murder for a breakfast food-related crime.
Baltimore, MD – 1999. A bowl of Fruity Pebbles has gone missing. Adnan Syed, a senior at Woodlawn High School, is the main suspect. But is everything really as it seems? And what’s the real story behind “Jay” H. Crunch, the police informant?
submitted via Laughing Squid Tips
As you can see I am clearly correct about this issue.
I drew a comic in which a reasonable person debated a strawman.
This is the highest level of evidence.
Probably folks have seen this already
One of my favorite things about remix: If you don’t like the narrative, change it!
When Casey Fiesler, a PhD candidate in Human-Centered Computing at Georgia Tech, came across the issues with the since-removed “Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer“, she set about creating a wonderfully remixed book that can be downloaded for free, reimagining the iconic doll Barbie as a computer engineer despite her impossible figure and overdone blue eyeshadow.
The problematic part is that, as far as I can tell, the steps for becoming a computer engineer if you’re Barbie are:
- Design a videogame.
- Get a boy to code it for you.
- Accidentally infect your computer with a virus.
- Get a boy to fix it for you.
- Take all the credit for these things yourself
And the problem isn’t even that Barbie isn’t a “real” computer scientist because she isn’t coding. (I am one of those mostly-non-coding computer scientists myself, though now I’m tempted to make a game about robot puppies shooting lasers anyway.) The problem is the assumption that she is a designer, not a coder, and the coders are boys. (There are also problems with nonsense explanations for computer viruses, taking credit for other people’s work, and inexplicable pillow fights.) I happen to study remix, so one of my first thoughts upon seeing this was: someone is obviously going to remix this. I figured, why wait?
Casey has also created an interactive “Feminist Hacker Page” to “help Barbie be the competent, independent, bad-ass engineer that she wants to be.”
images by Casey Fiesler
via The Mary Sue
The Digi-Comp II we made for MIT is featured in this outreach video from MIT+K12 Videos by Jamie Teherani about how computers work. The mechanical switches on the Digi-Comp II are compared to first to light switches and then to transistors. Regarding manufacturing computers with transistors, Jamie says, “We can make them over a billion times faster than the Digi-Comp!”
LinkNYC is a project spearheaded by New York City mayor Bill de Blasio that will replace the Big Apple’s 6,400 coin-operated payphones with 10-foot-tall kiosks that offer 24-hour free high-speed Wi-Fi access to a surrounding 150-foot radius. The project, made possible by a consortium of tech companies, will be undertaken with no charge to the taxpayer–and is actually expected to eventually generate revenue for the city through advertising. The project is reminiscent of the NYFi project that won the NYC Payphone Design Challenge back in 2013.
images via LinkNYC
German designer Peter Dahmen creates pop-up paper sculptures that open to reveal astonishingly complex forms. Dahmen talks about his artistic process and demonstrates a number of his beautiful sculptures in the video “The Magic Moment” by filmmaker Christopher Helkey. Dahmen posts videos of his sculptures on his YouTube channel.
photos via Peter Dahmen
GIFS via Colossal
Former Cirque du Soleil performer Greg Kennedy demonstrates his innovative approach to juggling by impressively manipulating nine glowing balls in various patterns inside a transparent cone. Kennedy also has video from a solo show demonstrating his various unique takes on the art of juggling.
via Gizmodo Sploid
I don't care that it's for sports, that's badass looking.
photo via Barnie
Contemporary artist Gabor Miklos Szoke built an enormous stainless steel sculpture of an eagle for Ferencvárosi Torna Club, a famous Hungarian football club. The sculpture, which currently holds the title as the largest bird monument in Europe, took over seven months to build with the work of over 100 people. The artist notes how size and material are considered in his work to evoke the desired response of the observer.
My work strives to trigger a reaction in the spectator. Monumentality lends itself to this purpose and wood and metal are appropriate for these sizes.
photo via Barnie
photo via Barnie
photo via Barnie
photo via Gabor Miklos Szoke
It was hard doing this comic knowing that no matter what I did I could only make the second best choose your own haircut adventure.
In his series Impermanence, South Korean artist Seung-Hwan Oh creates wonderfully distorted photographic portraits by growing emulsion-eating fungus on his film. Oh first allows the fungus to partially destroy the developed film in a process that takes months or even years. He then digitally prints the distorted images (the film is too fragile to print in an analog process). Oh has been working on the series since 2012.
photos by Seung-Hwan Oh
Wow, it's been a pretty day at JWZ.
Hardware hackers building interactive gadgets based on the Arduino microcontrollers are finding that a recent driver update that Microsoft deployed over Windows Update has bricked some of their hardware, leaving it inaccessible to most software both on Windows and Linux. This came to us via hardware hacking site Hack A Day.
The driver in question is for a line of USB-to-serial chips designed by Scottish firm FTDI. FTDI's chips are incredibly popular in this space, as just about every microcontroller and embedded device out there can communicate over a serial port. But this popularity has a downside; there's a vast number of knock-off chips in the wild that appear to be made by FTDI, but in fact aren't.
FTDI develops drivers for its chips. The drivers can be obtained directly from FTDI, or they can be downloaded by Windows automatically, through Windows Update. This latter feature is a great convenience for most people, as it enables plug-and-play operation. The latest version of FTDI's driver, released in August, contains some new language in its EULA and a feature that has caught people off-guard: it reprograms counterfeit chips rendering them largely unusable, and its license notes that:
Use of the Software as a driver for, or installation of the Software onto, a component that is not a Genuine FTDI Component, including without limitation counterfeit components, MAY IRRETRIEVABLY DAMAGE THAT COMPONENT
The license is tucked away inside the driver files; normally nobody would ever see this unless they were explicitly looking for it.
The result of this is that well-meaning hardware developers updated their systems through Windows Update and then found that the serial controllers they used stopped working. Worse, it's not simply that the drivers refuse to work with the chips; the chips also stopped working with Linux systems. This has happened even to developers who thought that they had bought legitimate FTDI parts. It can be difficult to tell, and stories of OEMs and ODMs quietly ignoring design specs and using knock-offs instead of official parts are not uncommon. As such, even hardware that was designed and specified as using proper FTDI chips could be affected.
Every USB device has a pair of IDs. One, the Vendor ID (VID), is allocated by the USB group. Each vendor has its own unique VID and uses that VID on every USB device it makes. The second is the Product ID (PID), allocated by the vendor, with each distinct chip type having its own PID. Windows uses the VID/PID pair to figure out which driver a given piece of hardware needs. The counterfeit chips use FTDI's VID and set the PID to the PID of whichever chip it is they're cloning (FTDI has a range of similar parts, each with their own PIDs).
The new driver reprograms the PID of counterfeit chips to 0000. Because this PID does not match any real FTDI part, it means that FTDI drivers no longer recognize the chips and, hence, no longer provide access to them. This PID is stored in persistent memory, so once a chip has been reprogrammed it will continue to show this 0000 PID even when used with older drivers, or even when used with Linux.
The broken parts do appear to be recoverable; FTDI has recovery software that enables chips to be reprogrammed, and when used with some older drivers, it appears possible to reinstate the "correct" PID. If the chips are ever used with the recent drivers, however, their PID will once again be set to 0000.
It's not immediately clear how or why the drivers are acting this way. It's possible that they're somehow detecting counterfeits and deliberately reprogramming them. It's also possible that the drivers are sending the same commands to both good and bad parts, and these commands just happen to cause bad things in counterfeit parts while being harmless on the real ones. We've asked FTDI for comment but received nothing as yet.
We've also asked Microsoft for comment; while it's Microsoft's software that's actually detecting the hardware and installing the drivers, potentially breaking end-user hardware, the company had no comment to offer us and instead told us to speak to FTDI.
The immediate reaction among the hardware hacker community is anger toward FTDI. The assumption is that this behavior is deliberate, and while there is some amount of sympathy for a hardware company that's having its products so widely cloned, there is a great sense that FTDI has gone too far, making its drivers not only cease working with the fake parts, but also rendering them inoperable.
Update: Microsoft has given us a statement:
Yesterday FTDI removed two driver versions from Windows Update. Our engineering team is engaging with FTDI to prevent these problems with their future driver updates via Windows Update.
Listing image by Grzesiek
“Emulsifier” is a hand-painted glass sculpture by Austria-based artist Thomas Medicus, that, depending on the viewing angle, displays four different illustrations. The sculpture is displayed on a rotating base, which causes each illustration to slowly appear and disappear in an endless loop.
submitted via Laughing Squid Tips
Filipino artist Jordan Mang-osan burns beautiful illustrations into wood using a most unusual tool: the Sun. Mang-osan creates the illustrations with a magnifying glass and an impressive degree of patience. His work is a form of pyrography. Mang-osan’s illustrations are available to purchase through Fine Art America.
photos via Jordan Mang-osan
via Visual News