Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Piper's fight

A friend of mine has a Granddaughter named Piper. She has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes mucous to build up in her body, particularly in her lungs. There is no cure for cystic fibrosis.

Three times a day, for 30 minutes at a time, Piper has to use an airway clearing device called a vest as treatment. It helps loosen mucous in her lungs, which helps keep her airways clear and reduces her chances of hospitalization.

From her eyes, it looks like Piper is smiling behind her mask in the picture.

However, Piper and her parents have a lot to be concerned about. She needs a new vest which costs $15,000. Her insurance will not pay for one, and so her parents are trying to raise money to buy her a new vest. Please visit Piper's Fight if you would like to donate or for more information. Portions of any donation will go towards the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

If you run another blog feel free to post to her story. Piper deserves all the people she can get in her corner.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The gaping hole in my childhood

Oh man, my childhood microscope, chemistry set, plastic Babbage's machine, short wave radio, all of it -- even my brother's toy steam engine -- pale in comparison to the wonder known as the Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab.

It included: a U-239 Geiger radiation counter, an electroscope to measure radioactivity of different substances, a spinthariscope to watch "live" radioactive disintegration, a Wilson Cloud Chamber to see paths of electrons & alpha particles at 10k mps, three very low-level radioactive sources (Alpha, Beta, Gamma), four samples of Uranium-bearing ores, Nuclear Spheres (used to visual build models of molecules), the book "Prospecting for Uranium", the "Gilbert Atomic Energy Manual", the comic book "Learn How Dagwood Splits the Atom" and three "Winchester" Batteries (size "C").

A Geiger counter, radioactive samples, a "Dagwood Splits the Atom" comic book and Nuclear Spheres? Yowza! Can you imagine the look on a modern Helicopter Mom's face if her kid unwrapped a present and found that inside?

Details and more pictures can be found at and American Memorabilia.

Monday, October 19, 2009

21st Century Paper Flip Animation

A creative re-engineering of paper flip animation, although the laugh track is irritating. Be warned -- parts of it are rather crude and it may be NSFW.

VIDEOGIOCO by Donato Sansone from Enrico Ascoli - Sound Design on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oops, I guess I shouldn't have sold that at the garage sale

In 2007 Peter Silverman bought a portrait titled Young Girl in Profile in Renaissance Dress for $19,000. Christie's had previously sold it in 1998. At that sale they described it as a 19th Century German drawing.

Silverman thought there was more to the portrait than met the eye, so he decided to have it examined further. The Paris lab he used to assess it found a fingerprint on it that they said substantially matched a known finger print of Leonardo da Vinci.

The drawing was done by a left-handed person and stylistic mannerisms, carbon dating and the dress the young girl wears in the drawing match 15th Milanese fashion.
If verified as a da Vinci the drawing would be worth tens of million of dollars.

Aside from wondering exactly how a da Vinci gets lost, I feel sorry for the poor person who sold such a valuable object. I wonder if they got tired of it hanging in their living room and replaced it with an Alma Thomas masterpiece?  Regardless, finding out you peddled a da Vinci it must feel make you feel kind of like you're the Fifth Beatle.

Telegraph article via Neatorama.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

And That's What It's All About...

Narcissism, that is.

This from Algore: "Never before in human history has a single generation been asked to make such difficult and consequential decisions."

What utter piffle.

Friday, October 09, 2009

When the Don Quixotes rule the world

He had scarcely gone a short league, when Fortune, that was conducting his affairs from good to better, discovered to him the road, where he also espied an Inn. Sancho positively maintained it was an Inn, and his master that it was a castle; and the dispute lasted so long that they arrived there before it was determined.  --Don Quixote (pt. I, ch. XV)

Perhaps even more amazing than Obama winning the Nobel Prize is the fact that he was ever nominated for one in the first place. The nomination could have occurred sometime prior to the election, during his Office of the President Elect days, or in the in first few weeks after he was sworn into office.

His college years are a cipher to us. Later he had been a State and Federal Senator for a number of years, serving at both levels with no distinction. He had written no bills and had frequently ducked voting on other bills. He wrote a couple of memoirs. In perhaps his most visible position he -- if you'll pardon my French --  pissed away 140 million dollars of the Annenberg Foundation and with it accomplished nothing of measurable value in the process.

Oh, and he gave some speeches and campaigned.

That is to say, when he was nominated for the Nobel Prize he had done little more than write books and give speeches. He accomplished nothing of substance. Instead he just talked. Obviously what he said, rather than what he did, is what mattered to the Nobel jurists.

Pacifism in a parlor is not a brave thing. After all, there are brutish men with guns and greed loose in the world. What of the real peace makers? Mother Theresa stared down the slums of Calcutta, and Ghandi, who never received a Noble Prize, led a revolution he tried his best to keep bloodless. What has Obama done? 

I listen to Obama and I don't hear much but mush. I hear John Lennon singing 'Give Peace a Chance', or I hear a 'war never solved anything' bumper sticker read aloud in baritone, or perhaps a petition to Free Tibet touted. All admirable sentiments to be sure, but nothing more than sentiments none the less. How will those platitudes lead us from blood to peace in the real world?

Today, upon hearing the news of Obama's ascension into the exalted rank of Peacemaker Supreme, I thought of Alonso Quixano who reinvented himself as Don Quixote de la Mancha. I thought of the foolish old man who was so enamored by the fiction of the chivalric romances that he imagined himself surrounded by giants, kings, castles and fair damsels when the reality was something else altogether.

To the Don Quixotes of the world, and probably to Obama himself, it matters not that all he has done is waste other people's money and vote 'present' when the going gets tough. All that matters is that he talks the talk, that he spins the romantic fictions they want to hear. They are not people to be taken seriously. Don Quixote's earnest obliviousness was funny, theirs is not.

Helloooo visitors from Maggie's Farm. Thanks for dropping by.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

But, what if you get turned into this?

Nadine Jarvis is selling a rather unique product. She makes pencils from the carbon of human cremations. She says about 240 pencils can be made from the ash of an average human body. Each pencil has the name of the person foiled stamped on it.

They come in a box from which you can only remove one pencil at a time. You then sharpen the pencils with a sharpener built into the box. This collects the shavings so that, once the supply of pencils is exhausted, the box can be used as an urn for the remains.

It's all rather morbid to say the least, but I suppose the idea is an artistic person can use the carbon from your remains to create a body of drawings as your monument. A graphite on paper headstone. Add to that the notion that the box of pencils has a sort of a life of its own, starting out full and dwindling down to nothing but shavings, and you have an interesting reflection that physical things are born, worn down, and reborn again as something else. Meanwhile the drawings, the artifacts of the wearing down process, are something rather more sublime.

Yet, cynic that I am, I couldn't help but think that the quality of the monument created depended on the skill of the hand wielding the pencil. What if the monument ends up being something like Skull and Lemon, pictured above? However, perhaps that's the message -- what is left behind is nothing but shavings and drawings. The shavings can't be helped, but care should be taken in the quality of the art.

By the way, the Skull and Lemon drawing is from a post Real Drawings by Real Artists at redragtoabull. It was drawn by Harry Adams. Lest we laugh at it too much, or perhaps to add to its humor, it sold for £31.13.