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July 30, 2006

'Ways of Seeing: John Baldessari Explores the Collection' (of the Hirshhorn Museum)


I've always enjoyed these mashups, in which a museum gives an artist carte blanche to explore its holdings and create and curate an exhibit which reflects one unique "way of seeing" the world.


This is the first time Washington D.C.'s Hirshhorn Museum has done it.


Above and below, four* of the 18 pieces Baldessari chose for his show, which will be up for one year (through July 26, 2007).


The Hirshhorn is on the Mall in downtown Washington, D.C. at the corner of Seventh Street SW and Independence Avenue; Metro: L'Enfant Plaza (Smithsonian Museums exit); 202-633-1000; www.hirshhorn.si.edu.

*The artists** who created the the works pictured here, in order from the top down:


**Try a mirror.

July 30, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happi-Helper: '1 Tool — 12 Uses!'


Catchy name, what?

From the website:


    This multipurpose kitchen tool looks like a slotted spatula with a sharpened edge.

    But here's just some of what it can do (take a deep breath): whip, beat, scrape, turn, mix, blend, chop, drain, strain, cut, serve brownies and cakes, remove frost from your freezer.

    Even scrapes paint!

    Stainless-steel with beveled edges



Can your spatula scrape paint?

Didn't think so.


July 30, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Sound of Sand Singing


Kenneth Chang wrote about the songs of the dunes in a story that appeared in the July 25 New York Times Science section.

Along with the article online is a video demonstrating a man in Chile "playing" the dunes.

Long story short: If you have the right sand you can hear it sing in your own home.

Here's the Times piece.

    Secrets of the Singing Sand Dunes

    The dunes at Sand Mountain in Nevada sing a note of low C, two octaves below middle C. In the desert of Mar de Dunas in Chile, the dunes sing slightly higher, an F, while the sands of Ghord Lahmar in Morocco are higher yet, a G sharp.

    Since at least the time of Marco Polo, desert travelers have heard the songs of the dunes, a loud — up to 115 decibels — deep hum that can last several minutes. While the songs are steady in frequency, the dunes do not have perfect pitch. At Sand Mountain, for example, dunes can sing slightly different notes at different times, from B to C sharp.

    Scientists already knew that the sounds were generated by avalanches, but were not sure how. One thought had been that the force of an avalanche could cause an entire dune to resonate like a flute or a violin. But if that were true, dunes of different sizes and shapes should produce a cacophony of notes instead of one characteristic tone.

    Now, after five years of research, visiting sand dunes in Morocco, Chile, China and Oman, a team of scientists from the United States, France and Morocco say they have the answer.

    In a paper that will appear in Physical Review Letters, the scientists say that collisions between sand grains cause the motions of the grains to become synchronized. The outer layer of the dune vibrates like the cone of a loudspeaker. The particular note depends primarily on the size of the grains.

    Indeed, no dune was required at all. The scientists shipped sand from a Moroccan desert to a Paris laboratory and reproduced the singing by pushing the sand around with a metal blade.

    “It’s not at all like any other instrument we know,” said one of the scientists, Stéphane Douady of the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris.

    The most beautiful dune tune comes from the sands of Oman. “Very pure sound,” Dr. Douady said. “This one is really singing.” The least musical bits of silicon were those from China, which hardly sang at all.


Here is a link to Dr. Douady's website.

Here is a link to a page on his website replete with recordings of singing sand from all over the world.

Eerie and wonderful.

July 30, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Self-Cleaning Pet Brush



From the website:

    Easy Clean Pet Brush

    Self-cleaning brush makes grooming your pet easy!

    Just a slight turn of the built-in key and bristles retract, automatically removing hair for easy disposal.

    Regular brushing with the durable plastic bristles helps untangle fur, prevent matting and maintain a lustrous coat.

    6-1/2"L x 3"W x 1-1/2"H.


There's some serious money to be made in this space by the first person to bring to market a self-cleaning [human] hairbrush.

But maybe this is it — mutton masquerading as lamb.


July 30, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Barbarians at Gate 8' — Bruce Sterling on the 'two technologies that have shaped the life I lead today'


His column in the new (August) issue of Wired magazine is so much more insightful in a brief space than all the op-ed page bloviating appearing daily in the newspapers I read, it's breathtaking.

The piece follows.

    Barbarians at Gate 8

    If there are two technologies that have shaped the life I lead today, they’re jets and nets. Affordable airfare lets me go where the action is – wherever adventure beckons, necessity compels, or duty calls – without having to establish residency anywhere. And the Internet lets me do business and stay in touch no matter where I find myself.

    Cheap flights and ubiquitous worldwide communications are the stuff of globalization. Ready travel lets people oppressed at home taste the joys of free society, while the Net exposes them to the ideas and customs underpinning that social order. The effect is viral, spreading liberal values and economic growth to benighted dictatorships and hopeless pits of poverty. So it’s difficult to grasp that these two innovations might also be an imminent menace to Western civilization. Yet that’s the counterintuitive thesis of UK rear admiral Chris Parry, a Falklands vet, former commander of HMS Fearless, and the British military’s go-to guy for identifying emerging threats.

    During a recent briefing at the time-honored Royal United Service Institute – the oldest military think tank in the world, founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington – Parry imagined a future, circa 2030, in which the war on terror is still rolling along and the terrorists are winning. He describes a world so ripped up by nets and jets that sovereign nation-states like the UK are collapsing economically, politically, even physically. Then there are the people of that future, who hop from country to country and bear allegiance to none. “Globalization makes assimilation seem redundant and old-fashioned,” he noted, pointing out that, rather than dissolving into the melting pot of their host nations, immigrants are increasingly maintaining their own cultural identity. Jets and nets make this possible. “Groups of people are self-contained, going back and forth between their countries, exploiting sophisticated networks and using instant communication on phones and the Internet.” The result, Parry says, is “reverse colonization,” in which the developing world’s teeming masses conquer Western nations, as surely as the Goths sacked Rome.

    It’s easy to pigeonhole Parry as an isolationist – and, indeed, much of the public response to his speech came from anti-immigration wackos who said, “We knew it all along.” But he has plenty of forward-thinking company in these ideas. According to a loose school of “fourth-generation warfare” theorists, connected, globe-trotting terrorists are a bigger threat to the world order than hostile nations are. The technological drivers of globalization have enabled stateless barbarians to seize the initiative. You can’t keep them out by blocking the border, and the harder you smash the failed states that nurture them, the more they thrive. At the first sign of weakness, these new-wave Vandals will log on to urge their diasporic compatriots to attack you on your own soil. Failing that, they’ll hop on the next flight, pick up their baggage, and sidle into Starbucks to download the latest instructions from Abu Ayyub al Masri.

    Parry paints a grim picture. Still, his vision gives me an affirmative feeling about the future. If civilization is to overcome barbarism, its leaders must outthink the marauders. And the sturdy admiral’s foresight is a bold step in that direction. “An analysis of trends and drivers can only go so far,” he writes. “We also need to expect the unexpected – shocks will occur.” He’s not saying, “Kick the Arabs out of Europe”; he’s saying we need to anticipate the emergence of stateless aliens and rethink how host societies can integrate them. That’s a rare display of intellectual flexibility in a government official. Compare it with the Pentagon’s reflexive tendency to lash out when challenged (if we can’t kill bin Laden, we’ll crush Saddam) and with the Bush administration’s plaint that nobody could have expected airliner attacks, Iraqi intifadas, or crumbling levees. We’ll stop being blindsided when we grasp tomorrow’s shocks better than the bad guys do – and that’s a positive, not a negative, scenario.

    Nets and jets are never a one-way street, and even Parry’s reverse colonization can reverse itself. Consider Somalia, which, for 15 years, has been a running sore of new world disorder. Jets have evacuated everyone who could buy a ticket and have flown in battalions of jihadists. As for nets, this lawless maelstrom is one of the most heavily wired regions of Africa; free of licensing, taxes, and state-owned monopolies, entrepreneurs have been building out cell capacity and Net nodes like Silicon Valley whiz kids. To complicate matters, counter-terrorist warlords said to be financed by the US recently lost the country to a loose association of Islamic militias. This makes Somalia a prime case study for the darkest nets-and-jets forecast.

    And, yet, life there is calming down. The roadblocks have vanished, and the drug-chewing youngsters in their machine-gun pickups are contemplating the value of an education. Of course, even in a world of nets and jets, barbarism is still less stable than civilization.

    We live in a deeply paradoxical age, and it will take serious mental agility to navigate the years to come. Capable and imaginative people, both inside and outside of barbarity, are beginning to realize this. And for every person who does, civilization gains a better chance of survival.

July 30, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pharmacy blood pressure machine — Repurposed for the home


Just when I thought I'd seen the last of these devices in my local Giant supermarket's pharmacy (it was removed last year for reasons I have been unable to ascertain), up it pops in a kinder, gentler, pastel-colored iteration.

From the website:

    Arm Insert Blood Pressure Monitor

    This easy-to-use blood pressure monitor allows you to simply insert your arm to obtain an accurate measure of your blood pressure.

    The cuffless arm insert is adjustable to 40 degrees and includes an elbow pad for comfort.

    The large high-contrast display shows 3/4" tall systolic and diastolic readings simultaneously with pulse rate, and includes a three-color confirmation bar indicating ranges for hypertension, pre-hypertension, and normal.

    Special sensors detect errant body movements that can cause inaccurate readings.

    Stores 90 separate readings for two people.

    Includes AC adapter and four AA batteries.

    8 3/4"H x 6"W x 8-1/4"L.


One of the downsides of not having much technical ability is that I'm forced to let the "mini-me" version of the device remain in the picture up top because I don't know how to disappear it.

Oh, well.

Made by Panasonic so you know it will work.


July 30, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How to find someone's email address


1) Ask directly

2) If that fails, go here


[via Doug Klippert's Unofficial Addendum Stuff]

July 30, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

World's most technical (and frightening) PDA and iPod mount



Look at it.


Am I right or am I right?

From the website:

    Universal Windshield Mount for Cell Phone, GPS or iPod

    The sturdiest, most over-engineered product of its kind!

    This highly adaptable mount is popping up on airplanes, in ambulances and at other demanding locations.

    It supports up to two pounds of equipment and it adjusts (without tools) to any angle you like.

    A large thumbscrew locks the suction cup securely to your windshield or other smooth surface.

    We've even seen them on motorcycles, jet skis and golf carts!

    The universal cradle can grip any component from 1-1/2" to 3-1/4" wide.

    Made in USA of engineered polymers and high quality cast alloys.



Terminator- and Terminatrix-approved.


July 30, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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