Coming to Kindle and Smashwords

Coming to Kindle and Smashwords
November 2013

Apr 26, 2013

KaleidoPope, An Interactive Kaleidoscope of Papal Images

KaleidoPope is an interactive site by Michael Silber that creates colorful kaleidoscopic papal images. Silber describes it as a “visual pun that’s compelling to engage with.”

Apr 24, 2013

Cat Wearing a Shark Costume Chases a Duckling While Riding a Roomba Vacuum

In this video from 2012, Max (a cat who loves to ride Roomba vacuums) sits on top of one while wearing a shark costume and chases a duckling around the room. Look for a cameo by Sharky, a pit bull in a hammerhead shark costume. We’re pretty sure that this is why the internet was invented.
animated GIF via well that’s adorable
video by texasgirly1979

The science mystery behind a psychedelic HIV/AIDS drug

Apr 22, 2013

Nikola Tesla’s Amazing Predictions for the 21st Century

In the 1930s journalists from publications like the New York Times and Time magazine would regularly visit Nikola Tesla at his home on the 20th floor of the Hotel Governor Clinton in Manhattan. There the elderly Tesla would regale them with stories of his early days as an inventor and often opined about what was in store for the future.

Last year we looked at Tesla’s prediction that eugenics and the forced sterilization of criminals and other supposed undesirables would somehow purify the human race by the year 2100. Today we have more from that particular article which appeared in the February 9, 1935, issue of Liberty magazine. The article is unique because it wasn’t conducted as a simple interview like so many of Tesla’s other media appearances from this time, but rather is credited as “by Nikola Tesla, as told to George Sylvester Viereck.”

It’s not clear where this particular article was written, but Tesla’s friendly relationship with Viereck leads me to believe it may not have been at his Manhattan hotel home. Interviews with Tesla at this time would usually occur at the Hotel, but Tesla would sometimes dine with Viereck and his family at Viereck’s home on Riverside Drive, meaning that it’s possible they could have written it there.

Viereck attached himself to many important people of his time, conducting interviews with such notable figures as Albert Einstein, Teddy Roosevelt and even Adolf Hitler. As a German-American living in New York, Viereck was a rather notorious propagandist for the Nazi regime and was tried and imprisoned in 1942 for failing to register with the U.S. government as such. He was released from prison in 1947, a few years after Tesla’s death in 1943. It’s not clear if they had remained friends after the government started to become concerned about Viereck’s activities in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Tesla had interesting theories on religion, science and the nature of humanity which we’ll look at in a future post, but for the time being I’ve pulled some of the more interesting (and often accurate) predictions Tesla had for the future of the world.

Creation of the EPA

The creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was still 35 years away, but Tesla predicted a similar agency’s creation within a hundred years.

Hygiene, physical culture will be recognized branches of education and government. The Secretary of Hygiene or Physical Culture will be far more important in the cabinet of the President of the United States who holds office in the year 2035 than the Secretary of War. The pollution of our beaches such as exists today around New York City will seem as unthinkable to our children and grandchildren as life without plumbing seems to us. Our water supply will be far more carefully supervised, and only a lunatic will drink unsterilized water.

Education, War and the Newspapers of Tomorrow

Tesla imagined a world where new scientific discoveries, rather than war, would become a priority for humanity.

Today the most civilized countries of the world spend a maximum of their income on war and a minimum on education. The twenty-first century will reverse this order. It will be more glorious to fight against ignorance than to die on the field of battle. The discovery of a new scientific truth will be more important than the squabbles of diplomats. Even the newspapers of our own day are beginning to treat scientific discoveries and the creation of fresh philosophical concepts as news. The newspapers of the twenty-first century will give a mere ” stick ” in the back pages to accounts of crime or political controversies, but will headline on the front pages the proclamation of a new scientific hypothesis.

Health and Diet

Toward the end of Tesla’s life he had developed strange theories about the optimal human diet. He dined on little more than milk and honey in his final days, believing that this was the purest form of food. Tesla lost an enormous amount of weight and was looking quite ghastly by the early 1940s. This meager diet and his gaunt appearance contributed to the common misconception that he was penniless at the end of his life.

More people die or grow sick from polluted water than from coffee, tea, tobacco, and other stimulants. I myself eschew all stimulants. I also practically abstain from meat. I am convinced that within a century coffee, tea, and tobacco will be no longer in vogue. Alcohol, however, will still be used. It is not a stimulant but a veritable elixir of life. The abolition of stimulants will not come about forcibly. It will simply be no longer fashionable to poison the system with harmful ingredients. Bernarr Macfadden has shown how it is possible to provide palatable food based upon natural products such as milk, honey, and wheat. I believe that the food which is served today in his penny restaurants will be the basis of epicurean meals in the smartest banquet halls of the twenty-first century.

There will be enough wheat and wheat products to feed the entire world, including the teeming millions of China and India, now chronically on the verge of starvation. The earth is bountiful, and where her bounty fails, nitrogen drawn from the air will refertilize her womb. I developed a process for this purpose in 1900. It was perfected fourteen years later under the stress of war by German chemists.


Tesla’s work in robotics began in the late 1890s when he patented his remote-controlled boat, an invention that absolutely stunned onlookers at the 1898 Electrical Exhibition at Madison Square Garden.

At present we suffer from the derangement of our civilization because we have not yet completely adjusted ourselves to the machine age. The solution of our problems does not lie in destroying but in mastering the machine.

Innumerable activities still performed by human hands today will be performed by automatons. At this very moment scientists working in the laboratories of American universities are attempting to create what has been described as a ” thinking machine.” I anticipated this development.

I actually constructed ” robots.” Today the robot is an accepted fact, but the principle has not been pushed far enough. In the twenty-first century the robot will take the place which slave labor occupied in ancient civilization. There is no reason at all why most of this should not come to pass in less than a century, freeing mankind to pursue its higher aspirations.

Cheap Energy and the Management of Natural Resources

Long before the next century dawns, systematic reforestation and the scientific management of natural resources will have made an end of all devastating droughts, forest fires, and floods. The universal utilization of water power and its long-distance transmission will supply every household with cheap power and will dispense with the necessity of burning fuel. The struggle for existence being lessened, there should be development along ideal rather than material lines.

Tesla was a visionary whose many contributions to the world are being celebrated today more than ever. And while his idea of the perfect diet may have been a bit strange, he clearly understood many of the things that 21st century Americans would value (like clean air, clean food, and our “thinking machines”) as we stumble into the future.


Apr 19, 2013

How is a $12 phone possible?

Bunnie Huang paid a visit to Shenzhen's Mingtong Digital Mall and found a $12 mobile phone, with Bluetooth, an MP3 player, an OLED display and quad-band GSM. For $12. Bunnie's teardown shows a little bit about how this $12 piece of electronics can possibly be profitable, but far more tantalizing are his notes about Gongkai, "a network of ideas, spread peer-to-peer, with certain rules to enforce sharing and to prevent leeching." It's the Pearl River Delta's answer to the open source hardware movement, and Bunnie promises to write more about it soon.

Apr 18, 2013

What If Humans Crossed the Street Like Animals

Alena Naff shows us what it would be like if humans crossed the street like animals in this hilarious video. The deer is particularly spot on. We previously wrote about two similar videos

Agent of Good: Connected Hospitals, GE Ad Stars Agent Smith From ‘The Matrix’

Agent of Good: Connected Hospitals” is a new General Electric commercial by Warner Brothers starring actor Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith from The Matrix film series. He gets into character and shows how “brilliant machines are helping millions of people every day.” You can view more information on the General Electric website.

Apr 12, 2013

Apr 11, 2013

Ben Carson Withdraws As Johns Hopkins Commencement Speaker After Gay Marriage Outcry

  Dr. Ben Carson said Wednesday he is withdrawing as Johns Hopkins School of Medicine commencement speaker after speaking to the national media about gay marriage. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call) 0001Get Politics Alerts:

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Dr. Ben Carson, a Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon, said Wednesday evening that he would step down as commencement speaker for the School of Medicine after his incendiary comments opposing gay marriage drew outrage from students and faculty.

"Given all the national media surrounding my statements as to my belief in traditional marriage, I believe it would be in the best interest of the students for me to voluntarily withdraw as your commencement speaker this year," he wrote in an email to Dean Paul Rothman shared with the school.

Carson compared gay marriage to bestiality and pedophilia in a recent Fox News appearance. "My thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman," he said. "It’s a well-established, fundamental pillar of society, and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality -- it doesn’t matter what they are -- they don’t get to change the definition."

After Carson made his comments, a majority of graduating students signed a petition stating that he was an inappropriate choice for speaker.

Carson apologized last week for the fallout from his comments in an email sent to the Hopkins community. "As you know, I have been in the national news quite a bit recently and my 36-year association with Johns Hopkins has unfortunately dragged our institution into the spotlight as well," he wrote. "I am sorry for any embarrassment this has caused." Rothman sent an email affirming Carson's right to speak as a private citizen but noting that his recent comments were inconsistent with school values.

A celebrated neurosurgeon and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Carson recently became a conservative hero for criticizing President Barack Obama to his face at the National Prayer Breakfast in February

more hitch ....

Margaret Thatcher obit

Russell Brand's obituary for Margaret Thatcher is a beautiful and incisive piece of writing, and a good example of why he's not just another actor:
When I was a kid, Thatcher was the headmistress of our country. Her voice, a bellicose yawn, somehow both boring and boring – I could ignore the content but the intent drilled its way in. She became leader of the Conservatives the year I was born and prime minister when I was four. She remained in power till I was 15. I am, it's safe to say, one of Thatcher's children. How then do I feel on the day of this matriarchal mourning?
I grew up in Essex with a single mum and a go-getter Dagenham dad. I don't know if they ever voted for her, I don't know if they liked her. My dad, I suspect, did. He had enough Del Boy about him to admire her coiffured virility – but in a way Thatcher was so omnipotent; so omnipresent, so omni-everything that all opinion was redundant.
As I scan the statements of my memory bank for early deposits (it'd be a kid's memory bank account at a neurological NatWest where you're encouraged to become a greedy little capitalist with an escalating family of porcelain pigs), I see her in her hairy helmet, condescending on Nationwide, eviscerating eunuch MPs and baffled BBC fuddy duddies with her General Zodd stare and coldly condemning the IRA. And the miners. And the single mums. The dockers. The poll-tax rioters. The Brixton rioters, the Argentinians, teachers; everyone actually.

Thinking about it now, when I was a child she was just a strict woman telling everyone off and selling everything off. I didn't know what to think of this fearsome woman.

Apr 10, 2013

Apr 4, 2013

Leather Batman Backpack Inspired by ‘The Dark Knight’ Films

Batman Backpack
UD Replicas, a company known for creating officially licensed outfits and leather motorcycle suits based on films, has released a kickass leather Batman Backpack inspired by the Dark Knight films. It is available to purchase online.
First used by Batman on the rooftop of the Hong Kong skyscraper in ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008), and most recently featured in ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘ (2012), this gorgeous Batman accessory – universally referred to as ‘Batman’s Backpack’ – has now been brought to life as a fully functional, everyday usable leather backpack.
Batman Backpack
Batman Backpack

Apr 3, 2013

Richard Dawkins Justifies His Belief in Science: ‘It Works, Bitches’

During a talk at Oxford University back in February, scientist Richard Dawkins was asked to justify his belief in the scientific method. In his brief but pointed response, Dawkins explained that he believes in science because it works, or as he put it: “It works, bitches.” His quote appears to be a reference to a classic

VICE Series on HBO Will Feature Groundbreaking Stories From Around the World


VICE is an upcoming news magazine series on HBO that will feature “startling, groundbreaking stories from around the world.” The show is executive produced by Bill Maher, journalist Shane Smith and VICE’s chief creative officer Eddy Moretti and Fareed Zakaria of CNN will serve as its consultant. It premieres April 5, 2013 (trailer). Vice Media was recently featured in The New Yorker.

A Multitrack Cover of the ‘Game of Thrones’ Theme Song by Violinist Jason Yang

Back in July of 2011, Los Angeles-based violinist Jason Yang arranged and performed a multitrack cover of the Game of Thrones theme song by using both an acoustic and electric violin. The original theme song was created by composer Ramin Djawadi.

Tribute to Ridiculous Voices of Singers by Key of Awesome & cdza

The Key of Awesome and cdza collaborated on a “Tribute to Ridiculous Voices,” a musical homage to their favorite singers.

Apr 1, 2013

Thresher submarine tragedy to be recalled 50 years late

The USS Thresher is pictured at its launch on July 9, 1960. (Courtesy Arlington National Cemetery)


The upper rudder of the USS Thresher is seen as photographed by the U.S. Navy in 1964. (Courtesy of Naval History and Heritage)
PORTSMOUTH - Fifty years have passed since the attack submarine USS Thresher sank in the Atlantic with a crew of 129, but the organizer of this year's historic memorial service says lessons continue to be learned from the tragedy.

"In terms of safety, anyone who has served on a sub owes so much to the crew of the Thresher," said Kevin Galeaz, commander of USSVI Thresher Base in Portsmouth and chairman of the committee planning the 50th annual USS Thresher Memorial Service, to be held April 6. " . We haven't lost a SUBSAFE-certified submarine in an accident since 1963, and it's because of what was learned from the Thresher. The men lost that day, their deaths had meaning, and the families appreciate that."

The invitation-only memorial service will take place at 1 p.m. in the Portsmouth High School Auditorium. Galeaz said about 1,200 are expected to attend, including 612 relatives of crew members killed when the submarine sank April 10, 1963, during a sea trial about 225 miles off the New England coast. U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen will speak at the ceremony; Vice Admiral Michael J. Connor, commander of the U.S. Navy Submarine Forces, has been invited to be the keynote speaker; and Blake Billings, son of the late John Hilary Billings, lieutenant commander of the Thresher, will perform "In Memory of You," which he composed.

Victoria Sallade of Sicklerville, N.J., whose grandfather Charles Wiggins served as a fire control technician aboard the Thresher, will also attend the event.

"This is the first year I'll be making the trip without my mother, who passed away last year," said Sallade. "She always told us how our grandfather died a hero for our country. An event like this is so meaningful for the families involved. It's a lot like a reunion because everyone shares a bond that most people will never understand. My mother would want me there for her and for my grandfather."

"The families are a very close group," said Galeaz.

Galeaz said members of Thresher Base, a group of submarine veterans chartered in 1989 to preserve the memory of those who perished on the Thresher and other subs, have been scrambling in recent weeks to relocate the service, after officials at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard informed him they would no longer be able to host the event due to Department of Defense spending cuts.

"We were almost a victim of sequestration," said Galeaz. "Now they've told me they don't have approval to print the programs either, so I'm on the way to get those taken care of."

The Thresher, one of the newest and most modern subs in the U.S. fleet in 1963, was on a training dive when the Navy lost all contact with it. At first, the Navy reported the Thresher was overdue and presumed missing, but changed the report to "appears to be lost" after an oil slick was sighted. The $45 million Thresher, built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, had been commissioned less than two years earlier.

A report generated by a Navy inquiry into the accident said that while the exact sequence of events that sank the Thresher will never be known, the loss "in all probability" started with a seawater leak into the engine room from a faulty silver-braze pipe. The seawater then shorted electrical circuits, triggering an automatic shutdown of the reactor. When the captain attempted to release seawater from ballast tanks with blasts of compressed air, that system failed, as well, leaving the sub slowly sinking into the Atlantic.

When it reached a depth where the pressure was too great for its hull to withstand, it was crushed.

The Navy ordered changes and improvements in quality control at its shipyards after the accident. Submarine design and operating procedures for the vessels also changed.

The loss of Thresher was the genesis of the SUBSAFE Program, according to the Thresher Base website.

Galeaz said the memorial service will be filmed live and streamed over the Defense Vide