Category Archives: bizarre

Craft time

Something I had to make during my lunch break.

Because seeing Totoro in Toy Story 3 was awesome.

Add these to your reading list

These are some of the odd books unearthed for the Diagram Prize which is awarded each year to the book with the strangest title.

Yes, these books are real.

All Dogs Have ADHD

Baboon Metaphysics: The Evolution of a Social Mind

Beyond Leaf Raking: Learning to Serve/Serving to Learn (Essentials for Christian Youth)

Bombproof Your Horse

Curbside Consultation of the Colon

Excrement in the Late Middle Ages: Sacred Filth and Chaucer’s Fecopoetics

Fancy Coffins to Make Yourself

The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais

How Green Were the Nazis?

How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art

Insects Are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings

The Big Book Of Lesbian Horse Stories

Living With Crazy Buttocks

Malformed Frogs

Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality

People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It

The Art and Craft of Pounding Flowers: No Ink, No Paint, Just a Hammer

I Was Tortured By The Pygmy Love Queen

Reusing Old Graves: A Report on Popular British Attitudes

Proceedings of the Eighteenth International Seaweed Symposium

Squid Recruitment Dynamics

The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification

Tattooed Mountain Women and Spoonboxes of Daghestan: Magic Medicine Symbols in Silk, Stone, Wood and Flesh


Citizen Spies

Thanks to Google Maps, we know that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has an awesome swimming pool, complete with a bitchin’ water slide:

(click to see it on Google Maps)

But Google Maps also shows us the cost of excess.

(click to see it on Google Maps)

This is a very small sampling of the mass graves resulting from the 1995-1998 famines (the “Arduous March”) that killed around two million people.

This hellish tour of North Korean is curated by Curtis Melvin, a PhD candidate who, along with a few fellow investigators, has spent the last two years annotating the maps of North Korea in Google Earth. He was recently profiled in a fascinating Wall Street Journal article.

Go to Curtis Melvin’s site to download the incredible kmz file which will open up in Google Earth if you have it installed.

Corn muffin coefficient

From a recent Quotation of the Day Mailing List email comes this gem from a collection of letters written in response to the US Department of Agriculture‘s redesign of the Food Pyramid:

“The cleansing properties of urine are not even addressed in the food pyramid. This must be corrected. We cannot allow small minds and prejudice to bury this useful health information from our brothers and sisters in light.

“Write back IMMEDIATELY and tell me where to report with my diagrams. I am including corn muffins prominently in my calculations. That alone should tell you that I know what I am doing!”

– Mark Martin, Foodician, from his submission to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the redesign of the “food pyramid”.

Here’s a snapshot of the original letter from the collection of letters the USDA received:

I think it’s an artist’s prank. He claims he received a response from the USDA but it was just a generic form letter. Nevertheless, the prominence of corn muffins in his calculations is hard to ignore.


You’re sitting at your computer, writing your next awesome computer program. You think, “I want to run my new program. But the computer I have is too slow and too boring to run it on.”

You glance over at the petri dish in your biology lab. “What if I could deploy my program as DNA, and the outcome of my program gets expressed as proteins and genes in a real cell?”

Sounds kind of crazy. But Microsoft is researching this.

An Escherichia coli predator-prey system implemented with a synthetic biology programming language developed by Microsoft researchers.

In their paper Towards programming languages for genetic engineering of living cells, Microsoft UK researchers Michael Pedersen and Andrew Phillips have developed a programming language that translates logical concepts into models of biological reactions in simulators. Reactions that have favorable results have the potential to be synthesized into DNA for insertion into real cells, achieving some level of cyborgian awesomeness that we can only just begin to imagine. (Insert obligatory Blue Screen of Death joke here).

More info here. And be sure to check out the full paper here.

Dress for the Aporkcalypse

I was hypnotized by the recent rebranding of “swine flu” as “hamthrax”, which unfortunately compelled to me design a t-shirt for sale on CafePress:

How long until the band‘s lawyers come after me?

Until then, buy a shirt!. Or a hat. :)


XSLT is a language for transforming XML. I came to hate XSLT long ago, at the tail end of a fading honeymoon period in which I dwelt in the empty promises of XML.

Somebody came up with a way to plot the Mandelbrot Set using only an XML file combined with a particularly evil XSLT file. This is a disturbing, evil way to go about drawing fractals. Please don’t do this.

It really works. Click here to try it. Your browser will thank you for the pointless exercise.

(previously, and previously)

links for 2009-03-06: Pile o’ toys

This impressive augmented reality demo from GE inserts computer-generated 3D objects into live video. First, watch the short video. Then, try it yourself.
Israeli musician “Kutiman” took a big pile of seemingly random YouTube video clips and used them as instruments in his own musical compositions. I could not stop listening to these. My favorites are tracks 2 and 3. His site is overloaded at the time of this post; for now you can see samples here, here, and here.
Can you be an awesome DJ using nothing but a web browser and your computer’s keyboard? Yes you can.
A curious programmer, inspired by Roger Asling’s evolution of the Mona Lisa, asks if the technique could be a good way to compress images. Also take a look at the nice online version of the image evolver he wrote, in which you can set your own target image.
Hilarious Livejournal diary done in the style of Rorschach from the Watchmen comic book series.
The Crisis of Credit, Visualized – An extremely well-produced video describing the credit crisis in simple terms. – “Netflix for impatient people”. A remix of the Netflix site that is “about a quadrillion times easier to browse than Netflix’s own site”.
$timator: How much is your web site worth?
Cursebird. A real time feed of people swearing on Twitter. THANK YOU, INTERNET!
Leapfish. An interesting new meta-search engine with a clean interface. “It’s OK, you’re not cheating on Google.”
Twittersheep. “Enter your twitter username to see a tag cloud from the ‘bios’ of your twitter flock.”
PWN! YouTube. This is a great idea. You just type “pwn” in front of “youtube” in the URL, and voila; instant links for downloading and saving the videos.

My share of the stimulus package

Now I can pretend to be on Wall Street, seizing untold riches with my filthy, Ponzi-scheme stained paws!

My share of the stimulus package

My share of the stimulus package

My share of the stimulus package

My share of the stimulus package

…or does this hyperinflationary currency from Zimbabwe’s crumbling economy portend the future of our own currency?

By the way… uh… is it just me, or is the typeface on the 10 trillion dollar banknote the same as the one used for Rock Band?

They really know how to party in Zimbabwe.


This is the new Pepsi logo:

This is evidence of the complete and utter insanity that went into the design of the new Pepsi logo by the Arnell Group, the advertising agency retained to re-brand Pepsi:

What a Michelangelean Da Vincian effort. And it only cost $1 million. Totally worth it if you want your brand to become the center of some bizarre fictional universe. A universe that is also inhabited by the Hoff:

Download the entire “Pepsi Gravitational Field” document here. And read some of the backstory here and here. (I am still wondering if this is some kind of elaborate hoax to make the Pepsi ad agency look like some bizarre combination of Scientology and Time Cube metaphysics.)

May your emotive forces shape the gestalt of your brand identity!