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Maybe not:


A very funny "review" of World War II which emphasizes the repeated failures of realism from a narrative standpoint. E.g.:

Not that the good guys are much better. Their leader, Churchill, appeared in a grand total of one episode before, where he was a bumbling general who suffered an embarrassing defeat to the Ottomans of all people in the Battle of Gallipoli. Now, all of a sudden, he's not only Prime Minister, he's not only a brilliant military commander, he's not only the greatest orator of the twentieth century who can convince the British to keep going against all odds, he's also a natural wit who is able to pull out hilarious one-liners practically on demand. I know he's supposed to be the hero, but it's not realistic unless you keep the guy at least vaguely human.
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(It also now has marked incidents, which is cool. But I've been waiting for someone to do the historical view for years.)
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in the first 4 minutes of the film "The Kingdom": http://www.boingboing.net/2007/12/18/summarizing-saudi-hi.html#comments

For my money, one of the most fascinating factoids that this brings up is that bin Laden apparently offered to bring in his followers from Afghanistan to help throw out the Iraqis in 1991. One wonders what would have happened if this offer had been accepted, either instead of the American offer (which was accepted, of course), or in combination with it. (Certainly one can expect that (a) bin Laden might have been too busy to plan terrorist attacks on the US and possibly (b) both bin Laden and the US might have had a bit more trouble demonizing each other after fighting on the same side in aid of another. Yes, I know that we funded the Afghani mudjahedeen...but this would have been a more recent event, and one of explicit (and possibly even public) cooperation.)
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This is truly fascinating, in the original sense of the word: it's hard to take your eyes off it. (And has a nicely complementary solo cello soundtrack.)

If I had more familiarity with art in general, I'd get all geeky about that aspect of it, but as it is I can't even guarantee that the creator of the video used paintings in chronological order (although I do recognize many of them, and I did notice a couple of obvious stylistic shifts, e.g., impressionism and modernism). Technically, though, the morphing was very nicely done.

One random observation: the morphing, which gives the impression of the face turning back and forth, reminds me of how uncomfortable some of those poses must have been for the model. :P
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Most of these I'd known about (although I was occasionally surprised by some of the details) but it's a nice visualization of the empires of (or at least impinging upon) the Middle East through history.
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Courtesy of the NY Times:

A Doctor for the Future

A longish exploration on medicine, medical research, and the Amish and Mennonite communities. Fascinating stuff.

'First Man': A Walk on the Bright Side

A review of the authorized biography of Neil Armstrong. Told me several things I didn't know about Armstrong, and adds some interesting historical notes.

Location, Location, Location. Research, Research.

An article on the increasing availability of information on housing searches, including some tips for buyers and a few specific resources (PortlandMaps.com, PropertyShark.com, HomePriceRecords.com (yet another GoogleMaps hack...))...which also mentions that the housing market is cooling off. (*crosses fingers that this trend will continue for the next year*)

and, just for a bit of ecological humor:

And Sometimes, the Island Is Marooned on You

The island of Island Pond had it in for Andrew Renna.

Or so it seemed one Saturday evening a few weeks ago. In the middle of a pounding storm, Mr. Renna looked out across the pond, which borders his backyard.

"It was raining crazy," he recalled. "I said, 'That wind's going to blow that thing right over here.' Ten minutes later it did. When it moves, it moves pretty quick."

The island, about the size of a football field, made a beeline for Mr. Renna's house - crushing his three-foot chain-link fence, swamping his red-blue-and-purple flagstone patio, wrecking his dock, flooding his shed, hobbling his weeping willow, and drowning the oregano, cilantro, tomatoes and peppers in his garden. Then, with an insouciant shrug, it came to a standstill in Mr. Renna's backyard, an interloper squatting in stubborn silence.
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Archimedes Death Ray: Idea Feasibility Testing

MIT does it again. Proof of the wonderful things one can do with too much free time.


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May 2011

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