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Presidential handwriting

January 28, 2012

Barack Obama

George W. Bush

Bill Clinton

George H. W. Bush

Ronald Reagan

Jimmy Carter

Lightboxes

January 21, 2012

made these out of cardboard and christmas lights. if i had a large place, i’d do a whole wall of them

Lightboxes

A special kind of wrong

January 8, 2012

Check out this quote from 1901 by Rear Admiral George Mellville, chief engineer of the U.S. Navy (I read this in Alexis Madrigal’s book about the history of clean energy in the U.S.):

Outside of the proven impossible, there probably can be found no better example of the speculative tendency carrying man to the verge of the chimerical than in his attempts to imitate the birds, or of no field where so much incentive seed has been sewn with so little return as in the attempts of man to fly successfully through the air. Never, it would seem, has the human mind so persistently evaded the issue, begged the question, and ‘wrangling resolutely upon the facts’ insisted upon dreams being accepted as actual performance, as when there has been proclaimed time and again the proximate and perfect utility of the balloon or of the flying machine.

Why are we crying?

January 4, 2012

From Thumbs, Toes, and Tears: And Other Traits That Make Us Human by Chip Walter:

Scientists are compelled to admit they don’t really understand why we cry. They can only agree that we are the only animal that does. Other animals may whimper, moan, and howl, but none cries tears of emotion, not even our closest primate relatives. And unlike laughing or even speech, there doesn’t seem to be any obvious analog in the primate world. Apes do have tear ducts, and so do other mammals, but they are there purely for housecleaning: Tears bathe and heal the eyes. We have similar plumbing in place to keep our eyes clean and disease-free, but for some reason, at some point in our evolution, a savanna ape, or perhaps an early version of our own species, developed a direct, physical connection between the gland that makes our tears and the emotional parts of our brains. That is unique in nature.

good thing it was tear ducts rather than salivary glands, amirite?

I’m interested in what ingredients are required before crying is triggered (though obviously we all have a different threshold and it changes day to day). Some dramatic movies won’t make me cry even after more than an hour with the characters. This Thai life insurance company has apparently figured out the formula and only needs a few minutes.

On wow

January 2, 2012

Yesterday I came across this website compiling hundreds of debates between atheists and theists. I watched a couple of videos of the late Christopher Hitchens taking on Christian commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who has apparently assigned himself the futile task of making a reasonable argument for supernatural. In a 2010 debate at Notre Dame, Hitchens brings up something that he says is “rather more marvelous than almost anything in any holy book”:

HITCHENS: All the elements from which we and our surroundings are made are from exploded stars, from the stars that blow up and die at the rate of one every second and have been doing that since the Big Bang. Isn’t it rather magical to think we’re all made out of stardust. “Never mind,” as Professor [Lawrence] Krauss said, “Never mind the martyrs. Stars had to die so that we could live.” This is a very essential reflection to be having and it dwarfs — it dwarfs the religious explanations.

Hitchens also touches on some “amazing, overarching, titanic, I would say awe-inspiring facts” in his opening remarks (watch from 00:20:32 to 00:24:00):

Dress up

January 1, 2012

over the holidays, Jenn Wood let me try on her new line of hairpieces for Mignonne Handmade. The dresses are by kt jean and ouma, and Linda Wagner did my makeup. photos by © Kym Ventola 2011. I’ve never felt so glamorous – those are fake eyelashes!

Cactus

January 1, 2012

Cactus