The Alaskan nutrient cycle

Paul Klaver has an absolutely breathtaking short film revealing the nutrient cycle spawned (rimshot) by the salmon in Alaska. It’s gorgeous and I just don’t understand how he managed to get some of the shots. Watch it in fullscreen mode.

I have a fond (?) memory of growing up in Portland, Oregon and heading out to “Outdoor School” for a few days, where they attempted to inculcate a love of the outdoors in us city kids. We visited right after spawning season which meant the stream that ran through the camp was surrounded with decaying salmon carcasses, resulting in the entire place smelling of old fish. Lovely, no?

via Explore

Un Chien Andalou

In college I learned that Salvador Dali made a movie where somebody slashed an eyeball open. He and Bunuel wanted to make a movie that “offended bourgeois sensibilities”. Instead, the French bourgeois moviegoers loved it, something highly Bunuel. Now imagine my surprise when I’m sitting in a bar and on pops a movie:

Now if this movie isn’t Eraserhead Jr., I don’t know what is. One thing the short film is able to evoke is the sense of being a dream. Many films try it and almost all fail: that sense of one thing leading to another leading to another in a slightly logical but entirely elliptical manner is hard to pull off.

Oh, here’s some more commentary.

The history of US population growth

The size of each state’s abbreviation swells in proportion to its size in population (states in darker blue have a larger share of the U.S. population, states in lighter blue have a smaller share).

Only three states (Virginia, New York and then California) have ever held the designation of the most populous. Those states are bracketed in red. Meanwhile, the cartwheeling red star approximates the westward shifting center of the U.S. population…Note how inconsequential California looks in 1870, and the moment, one century later, when it takes over from New York as the nation’s largest state by population.

via Atlantic Cities

Wok and roll

I have to ask: is Wok and roll the best name ever, or bestest name ever? Apparently it is the current name of the restaurant where John Wilkes Booth plotted to kill Lincoln. This captivating Ted talk is a great and varied look at the history of “Chinese” food in America. Also, the reactions of Chinese to fortune cookies is priceless.

Coprolalia, 12/27

– Some of the most innovative and unique art in the past twenty years has been the proliferation of new optical illusions. So go hallucinate.
– I’m more surprised that this isn’t in Japan; robot waiters: because they have a better service attitude than humans.
– The first time lightning has been captured by an x-ray camera. Lightning has a cool (but expected) beam rising to the heavens.
– An awesome collection of japanese graphic design.
– For you math nerds: Terry Tao has come across an interesting problem in control theory.

The lunar eclipse

Sadly, it was cloudy where I was during the lunar eclipse so I didn’t get to see it. But a webvideo is basically as good as seeing it in real life, isn’t it? I’m sad that I didn’t get to see the red moon (it turns red because that is the color that primarily gets refracted around the earth and hits the moon). But the best part is learning new moon-related facts! For instance: you know how in every cheesy time-travel movie, future-man knows exactly when the eclipse will happen and uses that to his advantage? Well that kinda really happened (except for the time travel part):

According to legend, Columbus, looking at an astronomical almanac compiled by a German mathematician, realized that a total eclipse of the moon would occur on Feb. 29, 1504.

He called the native leaders and warned them if they did not help, he would make the moon disappear the following night.

The warning, of course, came true, prompting the terrified people to beg Columbus to restore the moon — which he did, in return for as much food as his men needed. He and the crew were rescued on June 29, 1504.

Squarepusher – Come on my selector

Pitchfork put out a couple of silly lists of the best music videos and singles of the 90s and that seems to get people somewhat riled up. Oh no a snobby music site disagrees with me slightly! Must put a short article up on my tumblr admitting disagreement while affecting emotional distance!

In other news, I hadn’t seen this video before and it is pretty cool, I think you will agree.