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December 29, 2011

Elephant beauty contest contestant

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Caption for the photo above, which appears on page six of Section A of today's Washington Post: "A mahout, or elephant keeper, decorates his pachyderm before an elephant beauty pageant in Sauraha, a village south of Kathmandu, Nepal's capital. The pageant is part of a three-day elephant festival."

I will report back with the results if I am able to obtain them.

If not, well, my vote's for the beauty up top.

[picture by Prakash Mathema]

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But wait, there's more: turns out that among the events during the elephant festival was an elephant soccer match.

You could look it up.

December 29, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Camera Earrings

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"Handmade from polymer clay; each pair is unique."

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0.75" x 0.5".

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$12.

December 29, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Double vision: Leonardo da Vinci's "The Virgin of the Rocks" in 1483 and 10 years later

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Long story by art historian Cammy Brothers in the December 27, 2011 Wall Street Journal short: Leonardo painted "The Virgin of the Rocks" (above) from 1483-1486, then created a second version (below) roughly a decade later.

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What is revealed by the twin masterworks has been the basis of much commentary and speculation over the centuries, but simply looking is enough for many.

For the first time ever, the two paintings — the earlier version permanently housed in Paris at the Louvre, the latter in London — can be seen together at London's National Gallery, in an exhibition titled "Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan.

Excerpts from Brothers' article follow.

The centerpiece of the show is its comparison between two major, large paintings, "The Virgin of the Rocks" from Paris and London, never before seen together.

A dispute over the first commission of 1483, for the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, forced Leonardo to paint a second version of the same subject — no doubt a nightmare for him, but an art historian's dream. Identical in composition, but made roughly a decade apart, the two works provide an ideal laboratory for exploring how his approach to painting developed over this important decade in his career.

The Paris painting [top], the earlier of the two, shows Leonardo still very much beholden to his master Verrocchio. The features of the Virgin and angel are extremely delicate, an impression only increased by the actual fragility of the painting. The London painting [second from top], fresh from cleaning, is a startling combination of naturalistic modeling of figures and otherworldly landscape. Leonardo used a limited palette and subtle variations of shadow to create a unified effect, but the blue of the sky, water and the Virgin's robe still pop.

Curiously, the curators chose not to put the two paintings next to each other, discouraging direct comparison. My guess is that neither museum was enthusiastic about the confrontation, which would bring into relief different approaches to restoration and conservation. But it seems ironic, at best, that an exhibition about a painter fascinated by experimentation and science lost the opportunity to present this challenging issue to a broad audience.

Said Dr. Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery, "I am quite sure that the experience of seeing these masterpieces juxtaposed will be one that none of us will ever forget, or that will ever be repeated."

Fair warning.

The paintings and show will remain up at the National Gallery through February 5, 2012.

December 29, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Panerai Travel Alarm Clock

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For those who prefer not to do forearm reps every time they look at their watch.

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$3,000 — but alas, discontinued.

You can pick up a used one for $1,995.

December 29, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Transparent Frog

Videre est credere.

"See-through frog developed by Sumida Laboratory, Institute for Amphibian Biology, Graduate School of Science, Hiroshima University, Japan."

From National Geographic

The see-through frog does not require dissection to see its organs, blood vessels, and eggs.

Professor Masayuki Sumida bred the frog to be a humane learning tool.

"You can watch organs of the same frog over its entire life, as you don't have to dissect it," Sumida told the news agency Agence France-Presse.

Dissecting animals for science has sparked controversies worldwide, even prompting some companies to create computer simulations as cruelty-free alternatives.

Researchers bred the sheer creature — a type of Japanese brown frog — for two recessive genes that make it pale.

Though not yet patented, the frog is the first four-legged, see-through animal to be bred by scientists. Some fish species are also clear.

Only 1 in 16 frogs end up see-through, and Sumida's team has not yet figured out how to pass on the transparent trait to offspring.

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December 29, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Trashed Sticky Notes

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"These notes come precrumpled for that already used look."

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"Perfect for the borderline OCD neat freak who can't stand a wrinkle in his suit or his paper."

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Four pads.

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$6.75.

December 29, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NASA Meteor Counter App

FunFact from NASA: "Every day, on average, more than 40 tons of meteoroids strike our planet."

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Wrote Aaron Leitko in an item in the December 19, 2011 Washington Post: "When you see a shooting star, make a wish. But also, take note of its brilliance. After all, NASA is counting on you. With its new Meteor Counter app — available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch — the space administration is calling upon amateur stargazers to help it keep a running tab on meteor showers around the globe. All you have to do is look up, get lucky, see a glowing hunk of matter hurtle through the mesosphere and then tap a few buttons. The interface is fairly idiot-proof: Just dial in the viewing conditions (hazy, cloudy, overcast) and the light level of the dimmest stars in the sky. Then, each time you see a meteor, tap the screen to indicate how bright it was. At the end of session, the app will automatically upload the data to a server for review by NASA researchers. Meteor Counter can also be set to record and transmit audio commentary, so, if you have a salient observation to make or just want to get a simple 'Whoa!' on the official record, you can do that, too."

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According to NASA, "After the observing session, the app uploads your data for processing by NASA personnel."

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The app is free, the way we like it.

December 29, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Guitar Spatula — I knew your crêpes were airy but this is ridiculous

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Food-grade silicone, safe up to 500°F.

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10" x 2.8".

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$9.68.

December 29, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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