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JPL Visions of the Future

NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory made a bunch of free propaganda posters for a bright future! If I had to decorate a restaurant or something, I’d choose some of those.You can download the whole thing, about 600 MB, here.

 

Apparently, coloring books for adults are a thing now. We anticipated the trend years ago, when we (the organization crew of our festival Waldeck-Freakquenz) produced a stack of slightly NSFW and silly art, which we wanted to offer for free at our next festival. It’s gotten lost in someone’s files now, but I swear, this year is the year it gets printed.

Anyway, there are all sorts of coloring books now, from animals and gardens to Game of Thrones to Dr Who (expensive) and even magazines like Flow.

This morning I stumbled over a hashtag on twitter, it’s called #ColorOurCollections. Libraries all around the world offer coloring pages, prints and sketches from their archives for free! Special collections libraries and archives around the world are teaming up to provide coloring pages scanned from historic materials all week.  Here are just some highlights:

The New York Academy of Medicine

Bodleian Library

Europeana

Ellis Library

… and lots more. Peruse the hashtags this week, there’s a ton of participants. Have fun!

 

Quantum mechanics for dummies

So I’ve been reading Alan Turing’s biography by Andrew Hodges and find myself glued to the pages. Sadly, I suck balls at math (no pun intended). I truly do. It’s the subject that ruined my otherwise perfect GPA in high school. I’ve been trying to grasp some of the concepts mentioned in the book, and quantum mechanics is one of them. This is fascinating! I never saw that before. I mean I heard the words thrown around but I never understood what it meant. I guess I still don’t. I would love to go back to school and start all over and actually pay attention in physics, maths and chemistry. Anyway, there’s this thing on reddit, ‘explain it to me like I’m five years old’, and anyone who has ever done this properly will probably scream in protest, but it’s ok to dumb it down a bit to get across the idea to non-pros (hey, Stephen Hawking agrees!).

There seem to be a lot of people responding who overestimate the vocabulary of a five-year-old. Here’s my best shot at speaking to a kindergartner.

Physics is how we try to figure out what happens when we throw a rock at another rock. It’s pretty easy to see that throwing a small rock at a big rock is different from throwing a big rock at a small rock. One day, somebody got tired of playing around with big rocks and started using the smallest rocks he could find and throwing them at each other. These rocks were so small that you can’t see them with your eyes, you have to use other tools to know what they’re doing, kind of like when an ant bites you or a bee stings you, you can’t see what they did but you know they did something because it made your arm hurt. Even though they couldn’t see the rocks, they knew what was happening because the tools they made showed them, just like your arm tells you when you get stung/bitten.

So the next thing this guy did with his very tiny rocks was to launch them through a very thin hole at a sheet and see what happened when they came out of the other side. Most people would probably guess that tiny rocks that are shot through a tiny opening will make a tiny hole in the sheet. But that’s not what happened. The tiny rocks spread out once they went through the tiny hole and they wanted to go through the sheet more easily in some places than others. But this only happens when you use small enough pieces of rock. The big pieces of rock don’t act like that. We’re still trying to figure out why.

Some also posted this link to a video of the double slit experiment (which I found very helpful since I’m a visual learner):

Neil Gaiman’s inspiring speech about making art

Found this on Boingboing. All the best to you in the new year!

Lene’s Top Ten 2015

10 Die Nerven – Irgendwann geht’s zurück (2012)

This is a first. Me liking a German band, with German lyrics. And punk, too! They applied for our festival, Waldeck Freakquenz, probably by accident. Because just every magazine has just been all over them and they’re way too big for us now. But still, the songs stuck with me.

9 Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss (2015)

From the heart of darkness comes this atmospheric album.

8 Bohren & der Club of Gore – Sunset Mission (2000)

Music when I want to block the world out and think of rain and driving through a dark neon-lighted city with fat raindrops in my windshield wipers.

7 UNKLE – War Stories (2007)

Still haunting my playlists after so many years.

6 Waltari – Torcha! (1992)

Waltari, those genre-defying crazy Finns! Saw them live this  year and while I’m not too keen on the new album, this renewed my admiration for Kärtsy, because he’s just an absolute joy to watch perform. Also, bitching hairbrush-nostalgics on this album from the 90s. Vogue!

5 Deftones – White Pony (2000)

A masterpiece. Yes, that happened a lot. Along with Tool, Klaxons and Unkle and such.

4 Kylesa – Ultraviolet (2013)

Hypnotic melodic sludge. Kylesa always delivers. Escpecially love “Unspoken” and “Long Gone”.

3 Liars – Mess (2014)

Again, killer tracks on this album, “I’m no gold”, “Vox tuned D.E.D.”, with all of the drama and all of the fun. Sadly not available for linkage.

2 Kangding Ray – Solens Arc (2014)

Saw him live in March, such a treat. Atmospheric layers of intricate beats. His new album “Cory Arcane” is also out in 2015, but I haven’t yet listened to it as much, so ‘Solens Arc’ it remains for the time being.

1 Leftfield – Alternative Light Source (2015)

This album has such awesome tracks. I really listened to “Bilocation” and “Little Fish” a lot this year. Leftfield are back, cheers!

 

Zero Punctuation: Fallout 4

Especially the thing about the typewriters is true… I’m such a hoarder.

Fallout 4: How to make light

I’ve been looking for instructions and haven’t found a conclusive tutorial on this, so here is a quickie:

POWER – GENERATORS Build a generator.

POWER – CONNECTORS&SWITCHES Build power pylon.

Connect generator to pylon with wire (option is shown while looking at the object in workbench mode, PC shortcut “space”)

POWER – CONNECTORS&SWITCHES Place a switch near where you want your light to be.

Connect switch to pylon with wire (see above).

POWER – LIGHTS Place a light bulb in the vicinity of your switch.

If the switch is in range of your light, it doesn’t need any further connecting, the light bulb will just be powered. It confused the heck out of me, but that’s how it is. Kind of electricity wifi. Oh joy, the future?

Flip switch like an idiot and be happy: you just made light!

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Robert Yang makes weird games (or are they?)

You are a man alone in a fitsness studio shower. Two guys walk in, talking, ignoring you. You just stand under the spray wondering what the hell it is this game is all about. Then with a great flourish enters this naked dude with sunglasses, walking up to you, asking you to give him a hand… washing his back. By this time, I have giggled and flushed a bit. Is this some kind of sex sim? You do as well as you can, and then he’s just like “Well, ‘ta for that, see you next time.” The game tells you that you have to wait for a few hours until you can have a go at it again… What the hell just happened?

You just had a game experience created by Robert Yang. It’s called Rinse and repeat. He has made all these other short weird indie games that make profound statements about sex, BDSM and denial like Cobra Club, Hurt me plenty and Stick Shift.

Each is an intricately crafted work full of deliberate detail. Each has a meaning deeper (yet entirely dependent on) its surface, in-your-face interactions. Each packs more significance into its five or so minutes of playing than you will find spread across many an eighty-hour blockbuster game and, taken together, the games present a fascinating oeuvre (a word video game critics rarely have an opportunity to use).

(Brenden Keogh from reverseshot.org)

It questions your expectations as a gamer, influenced by instant gratification the internet has to offer, and you end up weirded out by yourself more than by the actual game. I haven’t looked at all the other games yet (though they sound pretty great:Intimate, Infinite: literary murder / chess / garden simulator!) but if I find myself with five minutes downtime before the Fallout 4 frenzy starts, I’ll definitely check them out.

Same procedure as every year. Our annual 2015 Tetris contest was a bit chaotic this time: Few players, unrecorded games, winners vanishing and so on. But fun nonetheless. And I won 2nd place. Whoo!

Here are the highlights. Enjoy!

This list has been on my wall for a year and a half. It’s almost finished.

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I’m sort of embarrassed about it. But since I went through all the trouble I might as well share the results. I’m not even sure what my rating is based on here. Some works I still enjoyed even if they were a little rough around the edges, like “The last enemy” or “Wreckers”. Some were better productions but offended me nonetheless (“The fifth Estate”, blech). So here it is: The best and worst of Cumberbatch, rated by me.* Your mileage may, of course, vary.

Best

1. Parade’s End

Episode 5. Scenes 618

(Pre-)WWI love triangle drama. That was a moving role, sufficient drama for me. Poor Tietjens. If you’re looking for a Downton Abbey replacement, this might be your thing!

2. Star Trek: Into Darkness

khan

Science fiction with a twist. The new Star Trek movies work for me, and Khan kicks ass.

3. Atonement

atonement-bite

Romance/drama. Creepy as hell, plays a rapist. Moustache! Good movie based on a great novel.

Fun fact: This is the performance that got him the (only) audition for ‘Sherlock’ with Moffat and Vertue.

4. August Osage County

august

Oklahoma family drama. What a production, there is major acting mojo here. Feels like a theatre stage the whole time, intense performances. Kind of an unusual role for him (shy guy).

5. To the ends of the Earth

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Based on a Golding novel, it’s a coming of age story. Period piece, on a ship, with sexy times. Need I say more? Mildly funny at times!

6. The last enemy

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Total surveillance London middle east love triangle thingie. This could have been a decent series. But it’s still rough around the edges, plot jumps and whatnot. And why does TIA have an accent? It’s a computer. Overall okay! Anyway, you shouldn’t skip this one, because nudity.

7. Wreckers

WRECKERS

Dark British countryside drama. Sort of a bland movie, but interesting atmosphere and actors. Wasn’t too bad!

8. Third Star

third star

James has cancer and his last wish is to visit a particular beach. Bring tissues. Lots of tissues. Erm, for tears.

9. The Imitation Game

imitation game

Alan Turing biopic. Why has this movie not achieved a better ranking with me? All the components are there! I have ambiguous feelings about this movie, kind of like ‘The Fifth Estate’ because I know too much about Turing to sit back and enjoy the ride. But the performance is heartbreaking nonetheless.

10. Starter for 10

Starter-For-10-benedict-cumberbatch-15390979-640-352

Romcom feel good stuff with quizzes. Cute nerdy role!

Still noteworthy for reasons

Stuart: A Life backwards

Journalist writes homeless person’s story. Predictable tear jerker, but again, cute nerdy role. Also, Tom Hardy kills.

alexander-and-stuart-2

Dr. Slippery / Fortysomething

Awkward off-key British comedy. But you get Dr House, the Doctor and Cumberbatch for your troubles. And he looks so young.

latest

Worst (in order of awfulness)

1. The Fifth Estate

the-fifth-estate-poster-poster-1738645030

Supposedly biographical drama of Julian Assange and Wikileaks. I couldn’t watch it to the end because it sucked so much. I’m too well informed about Assange to be able to watch this without going “grr noo” all the time. Sorry.

2. Warhorse

benny-with-mustache

Boy meets horse, horse goes to war, many people die, boy meets horse again. It’s so tacky. Relatively short appearance. Do not recommend unless you’re into soppy Spielberg. Ridiculous moustache.

3. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker-Tailor-Soldier-Spy-image-7-600x399

I’ve tried to watch this twice and I still don’t get it. It’s not a bad movie, in fact it may be quite the opposite, but maybe I’m just too stupid or I have to read the novel by John le Carré first. I’ll probably do that and try again sometime. Also, hair.

Update:

It is now 2016 and I have read the 400-page novel. Let me tell you this: Easily accessible is something else. It’s a highly intricate story and le Carré is not being kind to his readers. You have to possess certain spy skillsets  to grasp what’s going on. Spreadsheets for jargon in the “Circus” (MI6) are highly advised.  It’s very subtle.

After I read the book I could appreciate the film more insofar as I could understand what the heck was going on and who was who. But without that, you are lost in the movie. I liked this adaptation insofar as it tries to convey things in a similar style to the book: hardly ever stating anything obvious, and the big reveal is very understated, the waiting and the watching is what it’s all about.

Cumberbatch’s character Peter Guillam stealing the files from the archives was one of my favorite scenes in the book and they adapted it well to the movie. It’s really hard to portray a character screaming internally while trying to act all smooth and cool to the outside. A lot of feelings and fears aren’t explicitly stated but conveyed through internal monologue in the book; so in the movie, there is a lot of silence. Having read the book, I could fill in those gaps and appreciate the (also very much understated) acting. But I stand by my point: As a viewer who has no clue what’s going on, you’re probably not going to enjoy this very much, all these blokes in trench coats staring at each other.

Interesting side fact: In the book, Guillam is hung up on his flute-playing girlfriend Camilla and gets more and more suspicious of her cheating on him, as he gets suspicious of everything he believed in at the Circus potentially being compromised. In the movie, they made him gay. When Smiley tells him that he should assume he is being watched, he breaks up with his S.O. pre-emptively, possibly to protect him? Anyway, it’s heartbreaking.

Spoiler! The secret star of the book is a homosexual love affair between two spies. The ending is not quite so subtle in the movie, though: I thought they could have done without the dramatic gesture of P. shooting H., but hey, what do I know.

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I’m still missing some big ones like ‘Hawking’, ’12 years a slave’ or  ‘Amazing Grace’. If I like them I might change the ranking accordingly. I’ve definitely gone out of my comfort zone and watched movies I would not have watched otherwise. It’s been a fun ride despite cringing through really awkward movies like ‘Four Lions’ or that horrible ‘Van Gogh’ documentary (jeez, I mean, blimey).

I hope this helps with prioritizing!

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*’Sherlock’ is non-competitive. Obviously.

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