November 30th, 2008



I’ve long been a fan of the idea of turning to nature for design advice. Now I know there’s a name for it: Biomimicry!

via inhabitat:

The Biomimicry Institute recently teamed up with Autodesk to launch, an incredible source of information for the growing community of professionals researching and applying the principles of biomimicry. The solutions that animals and nature have come up with have been tried and tested for millions of years (certainly longer than humans have been designing), so why reinvent the wheel? Why not learn from nature to make our designs more efficient, elegant, and sustainable?

In this exciting TED Talks video, Janine Beyrus talks about nature’s designs:

November 30th, 2008

What’s in a brew?

Why is white tea white? The white tea wikipedia page is quite illuminating.

White tea is the uncured and unoxidized tea leaf. Like green, oolong and black tea, white tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. White tea is fast-dried, while green tea is roasted in an oven or pan (while kept moving for even curing). Oolong and black teas are oxidized before curing.


In hard times, very poor Chinese people would serve guests boiled water if they could not afford tea. Host and guest would refer to the water as “white tea” and act as if the tradition of serving guests tea had been carried out as usual. This usage is related to plain boiled water being called “white boiled water” in Chinese.

November 30th, 2008

Clint Eastwood a vegan?

This page lists famous vegetarian and vegan people. Abe Lincoln was a vegetarian? Clint Eastwood is a vegan??

Apparently Albert Einstein also turned vegetarian and said: “Nothing will benefit health or increase chances of survival on earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

November 28th, 2008

ink your soul canvas

Why not say “I love you” with open heart surgery? This is the premise behind True Love Tattoos, a tattoo shop (or should i say surgery?) that specialises in open-heart inking! Now that’s devotion!

The “staff” page of their website is frankly terrifying. And their FAQ page doesn’t instill a great deal of confidence:

Q: can i still be a heart donor?
A: yes you can. however, be aware that research suggest that the new owner of your heart tend to get an unexplainable crush on the person whose name is tattooed on the heart.

Q: is it dangerous?
A: it’s not totally safe, but remember, it can be even more dangerous not to express true love.

So is it real? Perhaps not… But I would like to think it is.

via notcot

Posted in Ha! | No Comments »
November 27th, 2008

Homo Universalis


Above: Hildegard of Bingen, a medieval polymath, shown dictating to her scribe in an illumination from Liber Scivias

I like this expression (a little known synonym for “renaissance man”). Homo universalis:

A different name for the secondary meaning of polymath is Renaissance Man (a term first recorded in written English in the early twentieth century). Other similar terms also in use are Homo universalis and Uomo Universale, which in Latin and Italian, respectively, translate as “universal person” or “universal man”. These expressions derived from the ideal in Renaissance Humanism that it was possible to acquire a universal learning[5] in order to develop one’s potential, (covering both the arts and the sciences and without necessarily restricting this learning to the academic fields). This was possible largely because the collective knowledge of humanity was far smaller back then than it is today .

November 27th, 2008

uncharted lands photographed


Well, the microscopic world is relatively uncharted, photographically speaking. The awe inspired by these pictures is testament to that, I think! Above, a chicken embryo.

Here are galleries of microscopic photography, additional to the one linked above:

Nikon Small World Gallery (pictures taken with light microscopes)

Zoomified flickr pool

via drawn!

November 27th, 2008

Morrissey DJs

Morrissey compiled a set for KCRW and presented it, also fielding questions from the show’s host.

Interesting, and quite surprising, for Morrissey fans to hear what kind of music he himself likes to listen to.

November 25th, 2008

French Health Paradox

Despite a diet stuffed with cream, butter, cheese and meat, just 11 percent of French adults are obese[3], compared with America’s 33 percent[2]. The French live longer too, and have lower death rates from coronary heart disease. They don’t diet and they don’t spend hours panting round the gym.

Find out why.

9 other health paradoxes. via neatorama

November 24th, 2008

I like your shoes.

I like your shoes,
I might have said.
Colourful, new, exciting.
Unlike everything else
I know about you.

Physically you repulse me,
I could have revealed.
And it weakens me
and my heart
to think that if it weren’t you
it would have been someone equally vile.

and geographically
I am frustrated.
And you
are the final straw. But
“Excuse me”, I said,
instead of so much bile,
“This is my stop. Thank you.”

For it doesn’t do
to pick fights with strangers.

November 24th, 2008

In Love With The World

Under my skin: a tattoo.
More a part of me than
hair that falls and regrows,
memories fickle,
beliefs that change
and blood that’s new
since the start of this sentence.

It’s a part of me
because it’s so close to me,
like one day you will be.

Only you don’t exist yet.
You are not yet
who you will be,
as nor was I me
when the ink was laid
under that boy’s skin.

One day we’ll meet,
you and I,
and from then on
we’ll be close.
And you’ll be a part of me
for as long as our hair grows
and memories are made
and we believe in each other
and new blood continues to flow to our hearts.

And after that?

The tattoo will be all that’s left of me
for days. But we will both be closer
to the heart of it all.

In love with the world
and eventually
with every one we ever knew.

November 24th, 2008

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November 24th, 2008

Xhosa: An Introduction by Miriam Makeba.

Langaugehat recently posted a link to this delighting video, in which the late Miriam Makeba sings her “click song”, offering an insight into the linguistically fascinating Xhosa language of South Africa.

Soul soup. Educational too!

Via languagehat via growabrain!

November 24th, 2008

George Orwell – A Life in Pictures

George Orwell was a man of great wisdom and perception, the source of which being the short but extraordinary life he led. He captured a great deal of his wisdom and experience in words, but he himself was never captured in moving pictures — a sad loss for anyone wanting to make a documentary on his life.

In 2004 the BBC aired a wonderfully creative documentary of his life, using real period footage as well as almost seamlessly blended new footage shot with actors playing the parts of Orwell and his associates. It’s available in its entirety on youtube, and can be watched in 17 segments of roughly 5 minutes each.

Click here for a playlist with all 17 segments.

In order to avoid putting words into his mouth that he never would have uttered, they used only words that he wrote and tried to place them in appropriate contexts for dramatisation. As such, they have created a very innovative documentary that is at once engrossing, informative and insightful — if a little odd when it comes to the stiff formal style of the words uttered by the characters. That’s a small price to pay however. It’s a fantastic doc, well worth a watch.

November 23rd, 2008

Falling for Berlin

Louise East writes romantically, in diary format, about how she fell in love with Berlin at first sight:

September 15th

Berlin Schönefeld Airport

Six weeks ago, with another London winter looming and my lease running out, I decided I needed a change. Within days, I had arranged a sublet on a cheap apartment in Berlin and found a friend gracious enough to give my boxes basement space.

It happened so fast that it’s only as I stand outside Arrivals, waiting for the shuttle bus, that I start to wonder what the hell I’m doing in Berlin, a city I’ve never set foot in before.

I have not spoken German since my Leaving Cert oral several light years ago, and as far as company goes, I will be reliant on a handful of friends of friends who live here.

So why Berlin? Probably because I’ve never been there. In the absence of anything as dull as facts, my imagination has cooked up a Berlin of the mind, a timeless city where David Bowie is still in the Hansa studios recording Heroes , Sally Bowles is running a kohl pencil under one eye, and across town, chisels are slowly pecking holes in a 12-foot concrete wall.

In this metropolis I have created, I can see myself striding down Unter den Linden in dark weather. I am wearing a trilby and possibly an eye patch and when snow starts to peel off the sky, I duck into a mahogany-lined coffee house, sip on a Pilsner and write pithy notes about the 20th century in a series of black leather notebooks.

Why Berlin, indeed.

An enjoyable read. Full Article: Irish Times

November 23rd, 2008

Jonas Trampedach’s Teabag Coffin


Mr. Trampedach’s solution to the age old predicament of the homeless expired teabag is quite elegant in its simplicity! The Teabag Coffin is a saucer with a little shelf for your used teabag.

via notcot

Posted in Design, Ha!, Tea | No Comments »
November 21st, 2008

IBM & US Gov to Reverse-Engineer Brain

Albeit the brain of a cat.

The US defence agency DARPA is putting 4.9m dollars into it, but there are apparently no specific plans for the technology that they are trying to develop along with IBM — a computer brain, reverse engineered by neurobiologists, psychologists, computer and materials scientests.

The fundamental shift toward putting the problem-solving before the problem makes the potential applications for such devices practically limitless.

Free from the constraints of explicitly programmed function, computers could gather together disparate information, weigh it based on experience, form memory independently and arguably begin to solve problems in a way that has so far been the preserve of what we call “thinking”.

“It’s an interesting effort, and modelling computers after the human brain is promising,” says Christian Keysers, director of the neuroimaging centre at University Medical Centre Groningen. However, he warns that the funding so far is likely to be inadequate for such an large-scale project.

That the effort requires the expertise of such a variety of disciplines means that the project is unprecedented in its scope, and Dr Modha admits that the goals are more than ambitious.

“We are going not just for a homerun, but for a homerun with the bases loaded,” he says.

Full article: BBC

November 20th, 2008

The Danish Poet

A short animation film (15m) by Torill Kove. Won the oscar in 2007 for best short subject animation.

November 20th, 2008

philosophical design


I love this design — a calendar where every day is a match that can be burnt. A nice metaphor… Though on second thoughts, I wouldn’t want to be around when someone accidentally sets the whole calendar alight!

via notcot

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