Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lego robot that makes things out of Lego

Somebody made a robotic Lego assembler out of Lego robotics. If this thing starts making copies of itself, then we're doomed!

Monday, October 18, 2010

No Mo Sho Po

I'm done with abbreviations for Portland neighborhoods. Refugees from New York (or hipster New Yorker wannabees), you don't live in SoHo or TriBeCa. And Lents isn't the next SoHo. And even if it is, Lents is only one letter more than FoPo. St. John's already has a name, it doesn't need to be NoPo. (Not to mention that abbrevations for low-income neighborhoods that end in po' are in po' taste.) And why isn't the Pearl District referred to as PeDi? Surely the metrosexuals that live there get foot-manicures.

But if this must be done, I have some suggestions for new abbreviations:

Home of the Portland Pirate Festival - StJo (try saying that out loud)
Just up the ridge from Downtown - WeHi
A wealthy suburb south of the city - LaOs

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Meta media

I'm a very meta kind of guy. I have a BS in philosophy. Now I'm taking education classes where I think about metacognition and talk about talking about learning. Most of my news sources are meta - while I do read the paper and listen to NPR, I listen most faithfully to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and On The Media, and I religiously watch The Daily Show and Colbert, all programs that operate by analyzing the news and the media structure, not just being participants but being reflective participants.

And my musical tastes run meta. I'm mostly a fan of They Might Be Giants, Weird Al and Jonathan Coulton. All very clever songwriters. In particular there are many pieces of music who I know best through parodies. A week ago I heard the original Rocket Man, and I realized I knew Shatner's corruption of that song better than the original (and maybe the Family Guy parody of Shatner's parody even better). I like my universe highly processed, but sentient and clever. Seems to be working for me so far.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Don Quijote - Asian Grocer

In Hawaii recently, I discovered the Japanese grocery chain Don Quijote.

They were pretty awesome, well stocked with American and Asian foods. But it got me thinking what other literary figures you could name retail establishments after.

  • Ebenezer Scrooge - basically Wal-Mart, but with a Victorian mascot.
  • Fallstaff's nursery - specializing in fruit trees and vegetable gardens.
  • Mrs. Dalloway's. No joke, I just think it's a charming name.
but maybe we should appropriate a Japanese cultural icon for a Mexican grocery.

  • Rashomon - every time you ask for a price, you get a different answer.
  • Kaguya-hime - No refunds or we'll send you back to the moon!
  • Taira no Kiyomori - clearly the perfect mascot for a delicatessen.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Month at the Museum sparked awesome videos

The science museum in Chicago didn't choose this guy to live there for a month. But I think his application video is hilarious.

If you want to know more about why this video exists, I recommend Nina Simon's discussion.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sesame Street: Smell Like A Monster

Grover is charming in a very different way than Isaiah Mustafa.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

We want dumb robots

We can program a robot arm that will crack an egg or pour a beer better than you can. But that's not what we want. We want robot arms we can learn to use. You want to develop skill at using your tools, not have it do everything for you.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Corrupt Politics

Not only has the current Republican minority leader in the House once openly handed out tobacco company bribes on the House floor, but every Republican presidential contender but one is a paid employee of Fox News.

Wow. How the Democrats can lose to these guys is amazing. True, they have amazing writers who tell very seductive stories. And their discipline is amazing, and they have lots of funding to tell their story in lots of places.

But the amount of corporate funding corrupting them is shocking. Maybe the democrats are just as corrupt and I'm blind to it, but it seems like there's less poop in our food and lead in our toys when the liberals are in charge and willing to actually enforce the law.

Sigh. Publicly funded election campaigns seem like a flawed solution, but it's the only remedy I have heard of that might possibly fix things. A third party seems more and more inevitable and I welcome the shakeup, but I don't think it will solve the problems long term. Our country's history of third parties is of a temporary realignment followed by the death of one of the two parties. I don't know which current party will die in a realignment, but ten years later I don't think much will have changed unless we alter the mechanics of our political system.