H. P. Lovecraft’s Lesser Known Story of Love and Opportunity

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H.P. Lovecraft‘s disturbed imagination enriched the 20th century’s nightmares by giving birth to concepts like the Necronomicon and Cthulhu, everyone’s favorite octopus-headed cosmic entity.

There are many recurrent themes in Lovecraft’s work, but the main message in his stories seemed to be “All of us are fucked and there’s no possible escape from the horror, not even in death.”

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Please…stop there. Don’t go on. I don’t want to know. This time…I can’t take the truth.

“Sweet Ermengarde” stars the pure, beautiful farmer’s daughter Ethyl Ermengarde, who is taken from her family and virtuous suitor, Jack Manly, by their villainous landlord.

Later Ermengarde escapes to the city and makes a fortune. She comes home to reunite with her love, but realizes that the landlord is quite wealthy, and so she marries him instead.

Oh, Lovecraft. How could you? How could you?

H.P. Lovecraft via Cracked and Wikipedia.

Tuls

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Tools are designed to help solve our every day problems: measuring problems, bolt-tightening problems, furniture-assembling problems, rim-straightening problems, even bottle-opening problems.

[A]ny tool is useless if it’s back home.

Meet Tuls – a collection of compact, well-designed, card-sized tools.

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By George and David Laituri, also from the Kickstarter via Yanko Design.

The Brains of People with Walking Corpse Syndrome Really Are Closing Up Shop on Themselves

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People with Walking Corps Syndrome, also called Cotard’s syndrome, feel as though they are dead. They believe they are dead, and they go through life convinced of the fact that they have already died.

The syndrome is incredibly rare, and the majority of what doctors know about it are based on a handful of case studies.

Researchers recently took scans of [one patient’s] brain, to see if there was anything unusual going on, and what they found was that large parts of his brain had shut down. Throughout large parts of the frontal cortex, Graham had extremely low rates of metabolism, sort of like it was already asleep or shut off.

Specifically, such a brain scan resembles nothing so much as a person who is under general anesthesia or sleep. In other words, unheard of in a waking person, and perhaps even an explanation for the syndrome.

Image via karmaOWL on flickr.

Via Smithsonian.

The Swimming Cities of Serenissima

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Since 2006, Swoon has been organising trips with the DIY floatillas on waterways around the world including the Mississippi River, the Hudson and a journey from Slovenia to Venice in Italy.

Essentially styrofoam pontoons, the ramshackle boats are powered by old Mercedes engines which have been tweaked to run the propellers.

So far the trips have featured a handful of vessels, up to five or six, which not only house the crew of up to thirty artists, but serve as their theatrical stages when performing to audiences wherever they dock.

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“To the real life crew, the boats were a place of refuge – both a home and a way of moving through the world”, writes Swoon.

“To those who encounter the boats for the first time, they were a reminder that anything that can be imagined can be built.”

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Art project by Swoon (real name Caledonia Dance Curry).
Photos by Tod Seelie.

Via Messy Ness Chic for the full story (and a ton of fantastic photos).

Mummified Cats

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Cats were mummified as religious offerings in enormous quantities and were believed to represent the war goddess Bastet.

At Beni Hasan, there were so many cat mummies that at the end of the 19th century, a total of 19 tons of mummified Egyptian cats were shipped to England to be used as fertilizer. Cats who were bred to become offerings of this type usually died due to strangulation or the breaking of their necks.

Kittens and fetuses were mummified and buried inside the stomach of a statue that represented their mother. As time went by, like all mummies designed for this purpose, the mummification became less precise.

The Egyptians mummified animals for a number of reasons, of which religious offerings was only one. Food was another reason, and (of course) pets constituted another major category of this type of practice.

(Despite their reputation for being fond of cats, Egyptians actually kept a large variety of pets including dogs, mongooses, monkeys, gazelles and birds).

The loss of a pet even had a particularly Egyptian custom – shaving one’s eyebrows.

Prince Tuthmosis of the Dynasty XVIII is one example of a burial that included his pet cat, Ta-miu (she-cat), who is currently a resident of the Cairo Museum.

Via Wikipedia.

Computational Models of Knitting

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This part is all about the process of knitting as seen through the lens of a computer scientist. [W]e will now take a look at hand-knitting as computation.

First off we can observe, that hand knitting needles both have a storage and a stitch processing function. For example when knitting socks, three or more needles may be used, only two of which are operated by the bi-manual human, while the other needles only serve to hold the stitches.

This is really quite brilliant:

  • Knitting needles as abstract data types stack and deque.
  • Free memory as expressed by the yarn ball.
  • Stitches modeled by a data structure with pointers to subordinate stitches.
  • The finishing work representing allocated memory.
  • Dropped stitches as an accounting for automatic garbage collection.
  • Thread processing units…twiste stitches…

While the needles constitute the main memory, there is an immense amount of external memory available. Free memory usually takes the form of the yarn ball, whereas allocated memory is constituted by the finished knitwork. Once a stitch is dropped off the needle it is automatically saved to the external memory.

Photo via feminspire.

Via k2g2.

Antarctica’s Bartender of Club 90 South

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I’d wanted to visit Antarctica ever since I was a child, but in the end it was a wearying job in Silicon Valley that led me to make the leap. I convinced the right people I was the man they needed to look after the liquid nitrogen and helium used as coolants for the radio telescopes at the South Pole Station.

One Saturday night soon after I arrived, I walked in and the seat behind the bar was the only one free. Someone said, “Hey, can you get me a beer?” “Do I look like a bartender?” I asked. “Well,” he said, “you’re behind the bar. Do you know how to mix anything?” I was 26, and had picked up a few tricks at parties. “As a matter of fact, I do.”

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When most people think of Antarctic stations, the image that comes to mind is one solemn researchers engaged in the pursuit of Science.

But what about the off-time? What about the crazy long winter night (pretty sure singular is the correct grammatical form for this, given the location)?

It was pretty much a given that anyone who had applied for a job on the base was trying to escape something. I learned to spot the signs that someone was likely to wander drunkenly into the Antarctic night, and had heard too many stories of people returning to base with hypothermia and frostbite.

One drawback was the hangovers: after a particularly heavy session, I would have to nip outside to be sick. Any liquid that came into contact with the ice froze immediately and, if left alone, it would remain so for ever. It was a point of honour to clear up after yourself, which meant chipping away with a pickaxe.

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By Phil Broughton via The Guardian for the full story. Also via The Atlantic.