Two new visual representations have been catching people’s attention today. Each, in its own way, offers a view of all the matter in the known universe.
One is the periodic table of elements, now with four additional elements, completing the seventh row:
And the other is this picture by Pablo Carlos Budassi:
Posted by acilius on January 4, 2016
I just logged onto Twitter and saw these two images, one on top of the other:
In the Twitter stream, I saw the top half of the first image above the lower three quarters of the second image, forming a single circle. Somewhat like this:
Perhaps one of the young Jesus’ questions was “What is rickrolling?” I’ve heard the term for years, have no idea what it means, and can’t imagine caring enough about it to click on the link and find out why I should be against it. Anyway, an interesting accidental image.
Posted by acilius on May 29, 2015
Suppose a man hasn’t shaved in a very long time. He decides to get rid of his facial hair, so he digs out his old electric shaver. This is the only shaving tool he has, and it is not in good shape. Still, it starts when he plugs it in.
So he goes to work. Even though the shaver is clearly damaged and his whiskers are very long, it’s getting the job done. He shaves his face first. Then he shaves the top of his neck. Then he shaves a path down the middle of his throat. Then it breaks. There’s no fixing it, and there’s no one else in the house he can ask to go buy him a replacement.
He goers to the store himself. In the olden days, this would have been a potential embarrassment, if by some chance he had seen someone he knew. Still, it would have been between him and that person. The most the person could have done to make it worse was to describe it to other people, and the description would be less likely to call a visual image to mind than to raise the question of what happened. The answer to that question would dissipate the embarrassment pretty quickly.
That was in the olden days. Now people carry camera phones and post to social media. So, our guy could end up like this:
I don’t know who this guy is, and have no idea how he came to look like that. But the story above is the only explanation I can think of that doesn’t involve a lifestyle commitment to Seussical the Musical. And it makes me glad that I shave my neck first. Indeed, I sometimes think of the adage “If there is a point in a task when interruption will result in disaster, assume that you will be interrupted at that point” as Neckbeard’s Law.
I’ve searched for this adage online, but have so far found nothing. There are a number of books with “Murphy’s Law” in their titles; perhaps one of those books would have a form of it. And I find that there is a field called “Interruption Science” which consists entirely of studies about what happens when people are interrupted during tasks. So if I wanted to christen it “Acilius’ Law” and gain worldwide fame, I’d start by looking in journals that publish research in Interruption Science and, if I couldn’t find any article there in which the adage was already named for someone else, proceed on to those Murphy’s Law collections.
Posted by acilius on January 30, 2015
Last year, Mark Shea linked to and reposted this set of pictures of weird nativity sets and other kitschy Christian art. The title is “The 42 Worst Nativity Sets,” but I’d suggest another title: “A Thousand Kinds of AWESOME.” Who could possibly resist the Chicken Nativity?
Or the Mermaid Nativity?
Granted, the Zombie Nativity might be a bit too sacrilegious for some:
Though I don’t think it’s as bad as any of the various sets made out of pigmeat, such as the Bacon & Sausage Nativity or the Spam Nativity. Not only were Jesus and his family Jews who certainly kept kosher, but there’s the additional problem that the standing figures in the Spam Nativity are shaped like penises:
Circumcised penises, I grant you, but it is still disrespectful.
Perhaps the most reverential item included is the least conventional, Sebastian Bergne’s “Colour Nativity.” I want it! But only if I can put it on that table, in front of that wall. Since neither of those things is in my house, I suppose there wouldn’t be much point in actually buying it.
Posted by acilius on December 25, 2013
This animated gif appeared in Slate some time ago, I love it:
Posted by acilius on August 17, 2012
Our tumblr page is called “Thunderlads After Hours.” If you are a tumblr user, you will be familiar with the service’s “Dashboard” feature. All the posts on all the tumblr pages you follow appear before you in a constant stream. We follow lots of people, so we see lots of images when we log on there. Below are a few we’ve seen there.
This is the avatar for a page we follow that goes by the name “Jack Ruby Tuesday“:
President John F. Kennedy projected a public image that was in many ways the opposite of the image Colonel Harlan Sanders projected. They both came to international prominence in the 1960s and have remained familiar ever since, and each is strongly associated with a three-letter abbreviation. So I think this image is worth a chuckle. Because it simply replaces Colonel Sanders’ three-letter trademark “KFC” with Mr Kennedy’s familiar “JFK,” I think it is much funnier than the image on this T-shirt.
Also, this image caught my eye a few days ago:
I’d say this picture is sensational in more than one sense of the word. The artist worked under the name George Quintana, though his given name was George Quaintance.
Posted by acilius on February 23, 2012
This gallery consists of computer-generated 41 composite photographs. Each composite was made by overlaying digital images of several women of the indicated ethnicity and averaging their facial characteristics.
Back in February, this gallery provoked a great deal of public discussion. Some people behaved as though it revealed a deep truth about the racial divisions of humankind, while others not only rejected this idea but regarded the whole thing as a joke in questionable taste.
What I’ve been waiting for is for someone use the same technology to to do something useful, or at least something more interesting than this. For example, a composite photo of the 43 men who have served as US president might be interesting, especially if presented as a series of 43 slides. Slide 1 would show George Washington, slide 2 would show George Washington + John Adams, slide 3 would show George Washington + John Adams + Thomas Jefferson, etc. The change in appearance of the composite would of course be less each time, as each successive president contributed a smaller share to the adjusted average, but it might be interesting to see the final image gradually crystallize. It would be especially intriguing to compare the development of that composite with a similarly presented composite of a line of hereditary monarchs.
Posted by acilius on November 7, 2011
I started using the web back in the mid-90s, when the top search engine was Yahoo. I loved its “ontology,” the categories and subcategories into which it divided sites. I would sometimes click on a heading for a topic I didn’t know much about, then on a subheading that I knew even less about, and end up with links to a dizzying array of sub-sub-sub-categories I would never have dreamed existed. It was great fun. Long before the success of Google’s radically simple format forced Yahoo to scrap its ontology, however, I had tired of that little game, and simply typed text into the search window. So the switch to Google was seamless for me.
I’ve been wondering if people would use Google differently today, and if the web would therefore be structured differently, if the first generation of Google users had not included such a high percentage of people whose first experience of search engines had involved a lot of time monkeying around in the labyrinth of Yahoo’ old ontology. For people like me, the search window was a straightforward place for relatively serious business; the ontology was for goofing off. So when Google came along, we may have used it as a tool to find fun things, but we didn’t see it as a toy in itself, not at first.
The other day I passed a few idle minutes on Google typing in punchlines, looking for the jokes that went with them. I was surprised at how little I found. After a moment of thought, I was surprised that I didn’t run a series of searches like that the first day I used Google. Without the experience of the old Yahoo, I suspect I probably would have done so, and that a great many other people would have done so as well. That initial burst of inquiries might have led to the creation of any number of sites matching jokes with punchlines. Such sites might have become one of the major components of the web, up there with blogs devoted to people telling stories about their cats and conspiracy theories that begin in the 1960s and experiments with Photoshop.
Posted by acilius on October 10, 2011
Usually when we think of the Mercator Projection, we think of this map with the geographic North Pole at the top, Antarctica at the bottom, and the relative size of the Northern Hemisphere severely exaggerated:
Months ago, this picture appeared on a site called Apathy Sketchpad:
The map is also the Mercator Projection. Mercator’s contribution was not in putting north at the top, but in developing a particular mathematical formula for representing the planet’s roundish surface on a flat map. As the author of Apathy Sketchpad puts it, “the Mercator projection doesn’t need to make Africa small and Greenland big. It can do anything you want it to.” Producing a map with Africa at the top, he explains:
In principle a Mercator projection can be continued infinitely in the vertical direction, and in this case the ‘north’ pole is in Africa, so the map would be Africa all the way up. The level of detail would, source image notwithstanding, get bigger and bigger until eventually sub-atomic particles started to appear. Theoretically, you could exploit this to produce a map where Britain opened out as Africa has at the top, and extend the map up to include a road map of England, including a large-scale street map of Manchester, eventually opening out to provide a floor-plan of one particular building, then room, and eventually the layout of one table. This, however, seems like it would be very difficult so I haven’t bothered.
In the comments on this post, I remarked that I’d long thought someone should create a flash app called “Mercator Rotator” which would enable a user to put “north” wherever s/he liked and see the resulting Mercator map of the earth. I have no intention to produce such an application myself, but if you, the reader, have the requisite computer savvy and some time on your hands, I recommend that you do so and let us know about it in the comments.
Posted by acilius on January 25, 2011
I hope the Communist is the guy pointing and talking. He looks pretty obnoxious, and it would be reassuring to know “that his scheme for world domination is doomed to failure.”
Posted by acilius on December 17, 2010