Friday, 11 March 2016

Ten more trivial items from the past for your delectation

Helen Keller, feminist, radical socialist, anti-racist activist and civil libertarian
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow

Helen Keller’s activism on behalf of people with disabilities was rooted in her radical socialism, which held that the problems of the most vulnerable in society were the fault of capitalism, not genetics or industrial accidents.
Keller railed at her public reputation, which whitewashed her politics out of her activism. She’d be even more furious today, when she – like most historical socialists, like Albert Einstein and Jesus Christ – has had her politics completely expunged from her memory. However you feel about socialism, it is pure revisionism to remember Keller without politics. Keller did what she did because of her socialism, feminism and anti-racist activism.
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Play it now: The Penanggalan
via Boing Boing by Leigh Alexander
Games made in Puzzlescript have a uniquely-nostalgic feel, beyond the usual endeavour toward ‘pixel art’. The Penanggalan resembles a little old Atari game, starring a “floating head and entrails time-traveling vampire”.
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NailO – brilliant fingernail trackpad
via Red Ferret by Nigel
nailo1 NailO   brilliant fingernail trackpad
Sometimes you have to take your hat off to the boffins for coming up with something genuinely innovative, and this new concept product is one of those. The NailO is a nail sticker which fits over a thumb and converts your digit to a full blown trackpad. It’s the brainchild of the geeks at MIT – we’re rather surprised it’s not a crazy Kickstarter project yet – and it looks to have real potential.
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’90s computer teacher shows you how to use new thing that looks like TV called a computer
via Boing Boing by Xeni Jardin {via Laughing Squid via Reddit}
“It looks like a television. But it’s a computer!”
“You’re learning the most recent version of DOS, DOS 6.0.”
“What happens when you press the wrong button? Does it blow up?”
Go and watch the videos, great fun!

Was Yoda a medieval monk? It takes a museum curator to tell you
via The Guardian by Peter Moore
Pre-1600 yoda lookalike found on Medieval manuscripts
Until the arrival of social media, being a curator at the British Library remained a solitary, out of the way job. In many ways it still is for Julian Harrison, curator of pre-1600 historical manuscripts. Behind the scenes he cares for the priceless collections that include copies of Beowulf, some of the world’s oldest Bibles, the Lindisfarne Gospels and the state papers of Henry VIII. He curates exhibitions such as the current Magna Carta: law, liberty, legacy. The difference for Harrison these days is that he does all this with a virtual audience of thousands.
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Crime Dog: 1923
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Crime Dog: 1923
Washington, D.C., 1923
“Police dog -- Gus Buchholz”
About to take a bite out of something.
Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative
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The great conductors in rehearsal: 15 vintage practice room pictures
via Classicfm
Those intense rehearsal moments captured - with history’s finest conductors and composers at the podium.
View for yourself

The Oxford Etymologist gets down to brass tacks and tries to hit the nail on the head
via OUP Blog by Anatoly Liberman
I have always been interested in linguistic heavy metal. In the literature on English phrases, two “metal idioms” have attracted special attention: dead as a doornail and to get (come) down to brass tacks. The latter phrase has fared especially well; in recent years, several unexpected early examples of it have been unearthed. I say “unexpected”, because the examples turned up in obscure local newspapers, a repository of many language nuggets buried with little hope of resurrection (I’ll return to the burial metaphor at the end of the post) and because those working on the first volume of the OED (1884) did not have a single citation of the phrase. In the First Supplement, the earliest one goes back to 1903, but now we have examples dated to 1863. The feeling has always been that to get down to brass tacks is an American coinage, and indeed it first surfaced in print in Texas. As we will see, some other evidence also points in the direction of the United States.
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Researchers are on the trail of a mysterious connection between number theory, algebra and string theory
via 3 Quarks Daily: Erica Klarreich in Quanta
ScreenHunter_1128 Apr. 09 16.02
In 1978, the mathematician John McKay noticed what seemed like an odd coincidence. He had been studying the different ways of representing the structure of a mysterious entity called the monster group, a gargantuan algebraic object that, mathematicians believed, captured a new kind of symmetry. Mathematicians weren’t sure that the monster group actually existed, but they knew that if it did exist, it acted in special ways in particular dimensions, the first two of which were 1 and 196,883.
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Delightful time-lapses of flowers blooming
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
You simply have to look at this video

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