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January 19, 2009

'Eureka: A Prose Poem' — by Edgar Allan Poe


"On a snowy night toward the end of his life, Edgar Allan Poe delivered a lecture on the origins of universe."

So began John J. Miller's January 15, 2009 Wall Street Journal essay about Poe, the bicentennial of whose birth occurs today.

Miller continued, "It was an unusual topic — Poe was always more interested in death than birth — and the reviews were mixed. Frustrated by the response, Poe announced that 2,000 years would pass before his work was properly admired."

I can't speak for you but me, I don't have that much time.

Wrote Miller, "His remarks were soon published as 'Eureka: A Prose Poem.' The book sold a few hundred copies and then slipped into obscurity, forgotten except for the fact that its author went on to become a giant of American literature in something less than two millennia."

January 19, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Farmer's Bionic Bodysuit — "A voice recognition system allows the suit to respond to sentences like, 'I will pull a daikon out of the ground.'"


That seals the deal.

Daikons have always been my Achilles heel out in the back forty.

Here's Bill Belew's January 15, 2009 PanAsianBiz story with the details.


Japanese Create Bionic Bodysuit with Voice Recognition for Farmers

A Tokyo university research team has created a bionic bodysuit [above] to assist arm and leg movements. The result, farmers need to exert less energy by 60-70%.

The suit attaches at the shoulders, arms, back and legs. So much for working in the garden to stay in shape, he?

Sensors pick up body movements and send signals to built-in motors. Assistance come to help the arms and legs in five agricultural tasks.

The entire suit weighs about 25 kilograms (55lbs). Let’s see carry 55 lbs extra so you can lift 55lbs more easily… hmmm. I suppose there is a tradeoff there somewhere.

The same team developed a device last year that helps with lifting. That device this year now has a voice recognition system that allows the suit to respond to sentences like, “I will pull a daikon (large white radish) out of the ground,” or, “I will chop off branches.”

The team was able to increase work efficiency by 20-30% on farming chores — Japan’s answer to labor shortage is to get more out of the workers they have.

The team will market the bionic suit for research purposes in 2010 and sell it o the general public in five to seven years at around Y300,000 ($3,000) to Y500,000 ($5,000).  Before mass sales begin the team wants to get the suit down to 22lbs.

“What’d you do this morning grandpa?”

“I uprooted 2,000 daikons, 1,500 pumpkins, 2,200 squashes, 14,000 strawberries. Then I took a break for morning tea and started on the back fields.”


[via Nikkei and Milena]

January 19, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Finally — a shoe that's honest about what it aims to do


Sure, you can go on and on about how the female leg takes on a more beautiful line when the heel is elevated above the forefoot — but let's not pretend we aren't completely aware of the fact that once a girl dons heels, she's rendered relatively helpless in terms of mobility.

So why not take the notion to its logical climax by shodding the foot in horseshoes, just like the Budweiser Clydesdales?

Makes perfect sense to me.

Leather upper, wood/metal wedge, original horse iron.

Matte or Patent Black, Red or White.


[via Likecool and miniManel]

January 19, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Ming Tang's Folding Houses


From Inhabitat:

Folding Houses

Ming Tang’s beautiful origami-inspired Folded Bamboo Houses are intended to be used as temporary shelters in the aftermath of an earthquake.

Brilliant in their simplicity, the geometric shelters are constructed from renewable materials and can be folded into a variety of structurally sound shapes.

Ming Tang came up with the idea for his Folding Houses after a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck central China last May, killing 69,000 people.

Upon learning that the Chinese government planned to create up to 1.5 million temporary homes, he decided to design a shelter that was easily produced, cheap and environmentally friendly.

His geometric folding houses are beautiful, dynamic, and can adapt to respond to the needs of different situations.

The concept utilizes a system of bamboo poles that are pre-assembled into rigid geometric shapes.

The geometry of these forms provides each structure’s integrity, allowing a range of lightweight modular structures to be quickly assembled in factories and transported to their destination.

Once constructed, the shelters are then covered by using post and pre-consumer recycled paper.

[via Pulp]

January 19, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Now it's getting serious: Little Debbie Peanut Butter Crackers Recall


I've been reading about the widening recall of peanut butter-containing products with mild interest — until this morning, when I saw the following item in today's New York Times.

Little Debbie Crackers Join List of Peanut Butter Recalls

The company that sells Little Debbie snacks announced a recall on Sunday of peanut butter crackers because of a potential link to a deadly salmonella outbreak.

The voluntary recall came one day after the government advised consumers to avoid eating cookies, cakes, ice cream and other foods with peanut butter until health officials learn more about the contamination.

The announcement by the company, the McKee Foods Corporation of Collegedale, Tenn., about two kinds of Little Debbie products was another in a string of voluntary recalls after the most recent guidance by health officials.

The South Bend Chocolate Company in Indiana said Sunday that it, too, was recalling various candies containing peanut butter from the Peanut Corporation of America, which is at the center of the inquiry into the outbreak.

In suburban Chicago, Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products recalled several brands of peanut butter cookies it sells through Wal-Mart stores.

McKee said it had not received any complaints about illnesses from people who ate any size peanut butter toasty sandwich crackers or peanut butter cheese sandwich crackers. The recall covers crackers produced on or after July 1.

Officials are focusing on peanut paste, as well as peanut butter, produced at a Blakely, Ga., facility owned by the Peanut Corporation. Its peanut butter is not sold directly to consumers but distributed to institutions and food companies.

The peanut paste, however, is an ingredient in cookies, cakes and other products that people buy in the supermarket.

The outbreak is blamed for at least six deaths. More than 470 people have been sickened in 43 states, and at least 90 had to be hospitalized.

The Kellogg Company, which listed the Peanut Corporation as one of its suppliers, has recalled 16 products. McKee said Kellogg manufactured the Little Debbie crackers covered by the recall.

Most peanut butter sold in jars at supermarkets appears to be safe, the Food and Drug Administration said Saturday.


You can mess around with a lot of things and I won't say a word — but I draw the line when it comes to my Little Debbie Peanut Butter Crackers.

They've comforted me during many a long and sleepless night on call over the years, and I'm not about to give them up without a protest.


You must be joking.

January 19, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

A shark in my soup


Designed by Apostolos Porsanidis.


White glazed porcelain.

25cm Ø (10").



January 19, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Yo-Yo Ma's New Carbon-Fiber Cello


Long story short: He'll be playing it at tomorrow's inauguration instead of his $2 million 1733 Montagnana if the weather stays cold.

Chris Museler's article in today's New York Times has the details, and follows.

The caption of the photo above, which accompanies the Times story: "Senior Master Sgt. Bill Hones, a member of the Joint Service Orchestra, rehearsing on a carbon-fiber cello for the preinaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday."


Cold  Case:  The  Sound of  Carbon  for  Yo-Yo  Ma?

When the cellist Yo-Yo Ma takes to the inaugural stage on Tuesday, the instrument he will have may take music enthusiasts by surprise. Black, with a single-piece body, neck and peg box, and with no scroll at the top, the cello is a high-tech carbon-fiber instrument designed to withstand the cold.

Created by Luis Leguia and his Massachusetts-based company, Luis and Clark, the cello is unaffected by temperature and humidity, which can crack or split the delicate antique instruments that professionals usually use. Mr. Ma plans to play his Luis and Clark cello if the weather warrants, said his manager, Mary Pat Buerkle. His other cello, a 1733 Montagnana from Venice, is worth more than $2 million. Mr. Ma will be playing a score by John Williams with Itzhak Perlman on violin, Gabriela Montero on piano and Anthony McGill on clarinet. Mr. Perlman could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Ma is not the only inaugural string player using a Luis and Clark instrument. At the “We Are One” concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, the entire Joint Service Orchestra string section — 44 musicians in all — played the company’s carbon-fiber cellos, violins, violas and basses.

“My cello is a couple hundred years old,” said Staff Sgt. Ben Wensel, a cellist in the United States Army Band, before rehearsing on Friday in 14-degree weather. “I wouldn’t dare take it outside in this.”

Sergeant Wensel said that this would be the first time a major orchestra had exclusively used carbon string instruments. The orchestra is a combination of the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy and Marine bands.

Mr. Leguia, who studied under Pablo Casals and played cello for the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 44 years, came up with the idea for a composite cello after going sailing on a fiberglass Hobie 16 catamaran. He was struck by how efficiently the boat’s hulls transmitted the sound of the waves. “The greatest instruments can be heard through the din of an orchestra,” he said in a telephone interview. “I saw potential in that.”

The first cello Mr. Leguia built was of fiberglass in 1990. He then moved to carbon, partnering with Steve Clark, a champion sailor and carbon-fiber expert from Rhode Island. Mr. Clark helped refine the design and construction process, and the Luis and Clark cello was born.

About 12 Luis and Clark instruments are manufactured each week at Clear Carbon and Components in Bristol, R.I. The cello costs $7,139. Each instrument takes about a week to build and is handmade of layers of carbon fiber and epoxy. More than 600 have been produced.

As for the sound, Mr. Leguia said that he had tried to maintain the full-bodied sound of top-end instruments, but at a much lower price. A carbon cello, he said has a “flooding, deeper sound,” though “not quite as penetrating” as Mr. Ma’s Montagnana.

René Morel, who deals in fine string instruments in Manhattan, has said the sound is as close as you can get to a traditional top cello like a Stradivarius without being one. The cellist Aldo Parisot, a longtime instructor at the Yale School of Music, has been recommending Mr. Leguia’s cellos to his students for everyday use.

Sergeant Wensel said that his instrument “sounded a little raw at first,” but that “the sound has opened up for me.”

“It’s a good cello,” he added, “not just a good carbon cello.”

January 19, 2009 at 10:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Infectious Decals


The new issue of Wired magazine singled out this company, writing, "Laser-etching your MacBook Pro? Permanent and pricey. Instead, spend just $30 on an all-over decal from infectious, a San-Francisco-based design house that offers scores of original looks. The stickiness lasts for three years, but whenever you're ready for a change, the decals peel right off, residue-free. Bonus: the vinyl is coated in high-gloss laminate that protects your precious baby from wear and tear."

January 19, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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