Saturday, 26 May 2012

10 stories and links that I found educative, interesting or just weird

Construction of Christ the Redeemer, Rio, 1926-1931 via Retronaut by Chris

Until I saw these photographs I had not given more than a passing thought, if that, to how this enormous statue got to the top of the hill. Of course, then I had to go and find more information.
Thanks heavens, and Jimmy Wales, for Wikipedia.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The Bible, said Thomas Paine, has corrupted mankind. But the good book’s genocidal passages weren’t always used as a bludgeon against religion... more

Herbal remedy used to treat kidney ailments causes kidney ailments via Boing Boing by Xeni Jardin
A plant known as “birthwort”, popular in Asian and European herbal medicine for hundreds of years, causes kidney failure and cancer. Dan Vergano at USA Today digs into the fascinating medical detective work that solved this mystery: scientists compared genetic mutations in the tissue of humans and lab mice who’d been poisoned by the plant’s toxic component.
Read the full story

Are you a Luddite? via BBC News - Technology
A term used to refer to gadget haters, but what is its origin?
The answer is here.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Ireland took to it; Italy, too; but not England. The short story, after all, was no match for the Victorian novel. That is, until, the form founds its master, V.S. Pritchett... more

Slipe via How-To Geek by Asian Angel
Your puzzle solving skills will be put to the test with this classic slider-style set of puzzles. Do you have what it takes to think ahead and preserve the sections you have already completed while moving the remaining game pieces into their proper places?
As always you can decide between Asian Angel’s walk-through here or diving straight in here.

The Last Queen of Hawaii, 1891-1893 via Retronaut by Chris

“Liliʻuokalani (1838 – 1917) was the last monarch of Hawaii. She inherited the throne from her brother Kalākaua on 29 January 1891. The Queen was deposed on 17 January 1893 and temporarily relinquished her throne to ‘the superior military forces of the United States’. She had hoped the United States, like Great Britain earlier in Hawaiian history, would restore Hawaii’s sovereignty to the rightful holder.
Liliʻuokalani was arrested on 16 January 1895, several days after the failed Counter-Revolution. She denied any knowledge at her trial, and was sentenced to five years of hard labor in prison and fined $5,000. The sentence was commuted to imprisonment in an upstairs bedroom of ʻIolani Palace, where she composed songs including The Queen's Prayer (Ke Aloha o Ka Haku)”
More pictures here

20,000 Piece Lego Barrel Organ Plays Star Wars Theme via How-To Geek by Jason Fitzpatrick
Enormous barrel organ plays the iconic Star Wars theme song using a 20,000 piece diorama of the Star Wars universe. Check out the video to see it in action.
The project was a joint effort between marketing company Serviceplan and professional LEGO builder Rene Hoffmeister, and was built to promote the 3-D release of Star Wars: Episode I.
To operate the device, you walk up, turn the crank, and the barrel turns. The LEGO diorama built around the barrel–featuring scenes from Endor, Hoth, Tatooine, and the Death Star–strikes a series of levers which in turn strike the keys on the organ.
Watch the video [link above] to see it in action and then check out this video to check out how they built it and this gallery for close-up photos of the barrel.
[via Hack A Day]

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The Hebrew University Talmud department is full of methodical types parsing footnotes on footnotes. What drives them: truth or vanity?... more

Where Is Consciousness Located in the Brain? via Big Think by Orion Jones
Behavioral scientist at York College, Robert Duncan addresses how far neurology has come in finding consciousness by looking closely at the brain’s biology. Currently, consciousness is thought to be a result of metacognition, i.e. planning, reasoning and social ... Read More

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