Something Beautiful

Webcomic 004 Something Beautiful

Something beautiful that I saw today. Made my week. Life. I love life.

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Thank You Sandi Thom

Webcomic 004 Punk Rocker

In '77 and '69 revolution was in the air. Computers were still scary and radio was king. The only way to stay in touch was a letter in the mail. The record shops were still on top and vinyl was all that they stocked and the super info highway was still drifting out in space (whatever that means) kids were wearing hand-me-downs and playing games meant kick-arounds... I'm so glad I'm not a punk rocker with flowers in my hair :-)

Thank you Sandi, for reminding me how kickass life is.

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Upside Down Horse Statue

This is just too awesome for words.

upside down horse statue
Gallery of Funny Statues

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Context Free Grammars with POV-Ray

context free tree

I've been playing a lot with Context Free recently, and was inspired to write a program to do the same thing in three dimensions. It's still in early beta and there's quite a lot I'd like to add, both to the program and the grammar language. So, if you know what a context free design grammar is and have a copy of POV-Ray handy, check out:

Feedback, bug fixes and mirrors always welcome, and I'd love to see what you make with this :-) If there's interest I'll add an image/rules gallery as at

Many thanks to Chris Coyne, Mark Lentczner, John Horigan and others for Context Free. It rocks.

Link to Context Free
Context Free Grammars on Wikipedia

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Super Adventure Club

Webcomic 003 WP Fineas

At least, that's what I thought when I saw this sculpture at the Louvre. Find out more about the Super Adventure Club

update: appearently it's spelt Phineas.

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FBI Seal Generator

Potato Inspector has this neato federal seal generator, going to make me up some job titles and busniess cards for Alderney week. Just add American accent...

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Image converter for Context Free

licence plate shell

Context Free is a kickass free renderer for making fractals and abstract art using context free grammars. With this program the grammars are written in the form of rules for drawing shapes on a canvas and recursively calling other rules according to probability. Nice intersection of mathmatics and art.

My script converts images into rules for use with Context Free. Shown here is a licence plate I photographed with an unsecured Panasonic webcam in New Jersey. Seemed to be a car park security camera. Someone was obviously concerned about me zooming it in on the licence plates (technique for estimating camera's location) and switched the camera off.

If you drive a black BMW with NJ plate SMV-21N, rest assured that your carpark security guy is diligently watching his camera, especially when random folks from the other side of the world are using it to look around.

The spiral's a simple, elegant shape to start off with:

startshape plateSpiral

/* define a rule */
rule plateSpiral {
/* draw the licence plate */
bmpImg {}
/* rotate 10 degrees, y -10, */
/* size 98%, repeat */
plateSpiral {s 0.98, y 10, r 10}
rule bmpImg {

So have a play, I'm sure you can do better than mine, and I'd love to see what you make :-)

Image Converter for Context Free
Download the Program
Gallery of Context Free Art

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White Noise

Webcomic 002 My head is all white noise today


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The first illegal prime number

If you are viewing this page from the United States and are using the craptastic Internet Explorer web browser, you have just broken the law.

You now have this number in your browser cache, and have come afoul of the DMCA. This number when converted from base 10 to binary and executed strips the copy protection from DVDs. The NSA has observed your download, and your ISP has probably logged it.

4 85650 78965 73978 29309 84189 46942 86137 70744 20873 51357 92401 96520 73668 69851 34010 47237 44696 87974 39926 11751 09737 77701 02744 75280 49058 83138 40375 49709 98790 96539 55227 01171 21570 25974 66699 32402 26834 59661 96060 34851 74249 77358 46851 88556 74570 25712 54749 99648 21941 84655 71008 41190 86259 71694 79707 99152 00486 67099 75923 59606 13207 25973 79799 36188 60631 69144 73588 30024 53369 72781 81391 47979 55513 39994 93948 82899 84691 78361 00182 59789 01031 60196 18350 34344 89568 70538 45208 53804 58424 15654 82488 93338 04747 58711 28339 59896 85223 25446 08408 97111 97712 76941 20795 86244 05471 61321 00500 64598 20176 96177 18094 78113 62200 27234 48272 24932 32595 47234 68800 29277 76497 90614 81298 40428 34572 01463 48968 54716 90823 54737 83566 19721 86224 96943 16227 16663 93905 54302 41564 73292 48552 48991 22573 94665 48627 14048 21171 38124 38821 77176 02984 12552 44647 44505 58346 28144 88335 63190 27253 19590 43928 38737 64073 91689 12579 24055 01562 08897 87163 37599 91078 87084 90815 90975 48019 28576 84519 88596 30532 38234 90558 09203 29996 03234 47114 07760 19847 16353 11617 13078 57608 48622 36370 28357 01049 61259 56818 46785 96533 31007 70179 91614 67447 25492 72833 48691 60006 47585 91746 27812 12690 07351 83092 41530 10630 28932 95665 84366 20008 00476 77896 79843 82090 79761 98594 93646 30938 05863 36721 46969 59750 27968 77120 57249 96666 98056 14533 82074 12031 59337 70309 94915 27469 18356 59376 21022 20068 12679 82734 45760 93802 03044 79122 77498 09179 55938 38712 10005 88766 68925 84487 00470 77255 24970 60444 65212 71304 04321 18261 01035 91186 47666 29638 58495 08744 84973 73476 86142 08805 29443

Illegal numbers. What is the world coming to. What's that Timmy? You guessed there were 51103 pennies in the jar... *gasp* No! officer, wait! he's just a child, he didn't know...

Subject: Recent Changes

As you are no doubt aware, Sony Corporation(tm) has recently acquired international copyright on the number 43. The copyright comes into effect Tuesday. For this reason the 43rd floor will now be known as the 'Carribean Suite' and will have the braille abbreviation CS on elevator buttons and door plates.

Office parties celebrating birthdays between 42 and 44 will be referred to as Disillusionment Year parties. In all other correspondence and business in which the number may appear Sony Number(tm) will be used in place of 43 once our licence has come through.

The IT department is issuing a software update to all company computers that will allow Sony Number(tm) to evaluate correctly in spreadsheets and our proprietary software. For efficiency, the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+S will be implemented to type 'Sony Number(tm)'.

From Tuesday, any employee using the number 43 without express written permission from Sony Corp and consultation with the legal department will be deemed to be comitting copyright infringement and subject to the usual disciplinary procedures. Remember what happened to the intern who downloaded that illegal Justin Timberlake .mp3? She's still in jail, dont let it happen to you - police *will* be informed.

If there are any remaining queries about these changes, please contact your supervisor or the HR department.

Wishing you a productive day,
Joan Davis

ps: Happy Dissillusionment Year to to Jim in accounting!

In actual news, copyrights and patents have been granted on some numbers, and you're not allowed to use them. Details:

Patent for Modular Division Prime
Primes and Analysis of Patent Laws
Illegal Primes on Wikipedia

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Alien Abductions: Jessica Simpson

Webcomic 001 Jessica Simpson
War of the Worlds

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Unreal Wars - text RPG

Unreal Wars is a text based RPG following the war in Iraq. Looks pretty cool. I don't speak Dutch so I haven't played it, but if you do spreek de taal, get a load of this:


Welkom bij Unrealwars - Life is a game
Unrealwars is een gratis text rpg game die gebasseerd is op de oorlog in Irak.
Maar inplaats van lekker achter de tv te kijken, speel je nu zelf mee in de geweldadige strijd. Jij krijgt de touwtjes in handen en moet een groot leger leiden. Kan jij dat aan meld je dan nu aan op Unrealwars.

So why am I pimpin' this? The man behind it is my friend Kornelis the Dutch, and he's promised that if will help promote the venture, he'll sing for us all :-) So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Kornelis:

And dont forget to tell your many, many Dutch speaking friends about Unreal Wars, it likely rocks.

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TOE - Poetica Vaginal

I just finished listening to Benjamin Walker's Theory of Everything podcast about the Poetica Vaginal project, where a bunch of intellectuals from several universities got together to beam recordings of human vaginal contractions into space as a sort of SETI art project.

One of the problems with [previous attempts to communicate with extraterrestrials] is that there were episodes of sexual censorship: in the first messages we sent a line drawing of a male human being complete with external genitalia but a line drawing of a female human being without any external genitalia. We sent a picture of man and Barbie Doll into deep space to communicate with aliens as if they weren't entitled to know what we look like. It was really a picture of our own intolerance and it got worse with the Voyager probes ... where NASA prohibited entirely images of nude human beings. Aristotle knew that you had to reveal yourself to yourself before you can reveal yourself to anyone else. He writes about this in his book on poetics. He calls it the reognition and reversal principle. So.. really, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is an excercise in comminucation with ourselves.

The project was ultimately stopped by the US Air Force. Isn't that amazing? The US has the balls and foresight to spend millions of wingwangs sending data about ourselves into deep space, but cant send an uncensored picture of what we look like, it's as if we're embarassed about having human bodies. The subtext of our grand message to other sentince seems to be ''we're a species with massive issues about our own sexuality'', probably the most honest thing we could say on the subject. Not sure why we need to bring it up in our first communications with other species.


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Lord of The Rings Voiceover

YouTube has a short LOTR clip voiced over by some guy called Olaf with grunts and moaning. Hella stupid, and very funny.

Via BoingBoing

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Ren & Stimpy - Lawn Cigar

A frame from the banned Ren & Stimpy episode starring George Liquor (American).

lawn cigar

You can watch the whole episode on GUBA

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Clairvoyant Chickens in Ancient Rome

This Wikipedia article describes how the Romans used magic, psychic chickens to tell fortune. I wonder if they'd laugh as hard at modern religion/superstitions. Probably.

The Romans used chickens for oracles, both when flying ('ex avibus') and when feeding ('auspicium ex tripudiis'). The hen ('gallina') gave a favourable omen ('auspicium ratum'), when appearing from the left (Cic.,de Div. ii.26), like the crow and the owl.

For the oracle 'ex tripudiis' according to Cicero (Cic. de Div. ii.34), any bird could be used, but normally only chickens ('pulli') were consulted. The chickens were cared for by the pullarius, who [...] fed them a special kind of soft cake. If the chickens stayed in their cage, made noises, beat their wings or flew away, the omen was bad; if they ate greedily, the omen was good.

In 249 BC, the Roman general Publius Claudius Pulcher had his chickens thrown overboard when they refused to feed before the battle of Drepana, saying 'If they won't eat, perhaps they will drink.' He promptly lost the battle against the Carthaginians and 93 Roman ships were sunk. Back in Rome, he was tried for impiety and heavily fined.

So now you know. Next time you lose a sea battle, it's probably because you didn't have enough chickens along with you, or they weren't hungry enough.

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Olympus Mons

Olympus Mons

I'm a big fan of Google Earth, yet somehow managed not to know there are also maps of the moon and Mars. Shown here is the summit of Olympus Mons, a volcano the size of the state of Arizona. Biiiiiigass mountain. As far as we know, it's the largest in the solar system. Mars doesn't have tectonic plates, so areas of volcanic activity don't move around with time, and the mountains can get *real* huge. Ginormously huge. Wow.

Google Mars
Olympus Mons on Wikipedia

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Squirrels Read `American Dad`

Here's an animation I made of some crazed squirrels reciting quotes from the TV show American Dad.

Yes, I know. I was procrastinating something.

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Chalk Horse at Pewsey

Came across this on Google Earth and I think it's magnificent :-) Grid location 51 22' 20'' north, 1 50' 53'' west. Next time I'm in England, I'm going to organise some friends to have a picnic here.

Horse - Closer

It's name is the Alton Barnes White Horse. It was designed in 1812 by one 'Jack the Painter' who had been commissioned by the landowner of Alton Barnes Manor Farm. At Winter Solstice the Wiltshire Crop Circle Study Group light it with candles.

Horse - perspective

The circular dimply thing is a burial mound, ancient Celts built them on hilltops all over the south of England to honor chieftans and legendary badminton players. Or it might be something else, but that'd be less romantic.

More about the horse
Google Maps Link

Update: more horses

New Devizes Horse
Broad Hinton/Hackpen/Winterbourne Bassett
The Broad Town White Horse
Folkestone white horse, Kent

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Bubonic plague case in LA

From the Associated press:

LOS ANGELES, California -- A woman is in stable condition with bubonic plague, the first confirmed human case in Los Angeles County since 1984, health officials said Tuesday.

Los Angeles had the Black Death in 1984? I had no idea that diease still existed, I assumed it had gone the way of smallpox. Huh. In a related note, Alderney is reportedly the only place in Europe where one can still find plague rats - they were outcompeted by Rattus norvegicus and almost all populations in temperate latitudes have died out.

So.. we have a new item for 'Things to do in LA:', contract plague. Life is funny.

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Microsoft, Yahoo, potatoes and the NSA

According to CNN (article link), Microsoft and Yahoo are planning on building data storage centres outside of Quincy, Washington. By all accounts a charming little town with a potato based economy.

Quincy has cheap land, cheap hydroelectric power and nice industrial parks to build data centres in. There's easy access by highway 90 to nearby Ginko Petrified Forest State park, and - oh yes - the Yakima NSA facility.

Observe: une carte (google maps)


Aah, nothing says 'we value or customers privacy' quite like building gaint private data storage centres near to a giant govt data mining centre. What will Yahoo and M$ store in these centres? They're not saying:

'My understanding is their objective is to increase their capacity for the Internet, search engines,' Snead said. 'All I know is there's a lot of computers.'

Still unknown is whether those computers will hold consumer information, miles of code or backups for data stored on servers elsewhere. Gellos declined to provide further details, saying company officials were still finishing plans for the site.

Probably this is all just coincidence. We all know that big corporations don't help the NSA monitor internet traffic and VOIP calls like AT&T did, and the government's not even all that interested in online search engines. It's not like the Feds would sue Google for search data.

There's likely nothing to it. There's plenty of other stuff between Yakima and Quincy (rocks, bigger rocks, a road) so both the NSA and the search engines have good, independent reasons to build there. Unless... maybe, just maybe, something more sinister is afoot.

What if the NSA, using the combined research muscle of both Yahoo and Microsoft were developing a supercomputer. ... (dramatic pause) ... A supercomputer that ... (another dramatic pause) ... runs on potatoes! If that's the case then God help us. God help us all.

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