Versatile Lego

May 30, 2007

I always thought that Lego was wonderful stuff. We have a crateful of the stuff which provided a childhood’s worth of pleasure for our children and is now waiting for old-enough grandchildren. We built all sorts of castles, cars and simple machines with it, but nothing compared with what the real experts/fanatics are capable of.

Mocpages is a site for people to show off their Lego creations. Little did I know how popular Lego sites are. Mocpages lists nearly 200 sites just dedicated to  Star Wars Lego creations. Many of the creations are very simple and often based on the various sets available off-the-shelf. What impresses me is the efforts that some people are prepared to go to with their Lego creations.


But these are minor triumphs compared with the Grand Theft Auto animation


Or the rubber band gun

But my prize goes to Andrew Lipson who has made some of the most extraordinary things from Lego including my favourites, 3-D Lego recreations of M C Escher’s ‘impossible’ pictures. (Be warned that his pages open VERY slowly, but are well worth the wait.

Some photographic manipulation has been used but what the hell. They are fantastic anyway.


Insect bots

May 29, 2007

As you might expect in a sci-fi story, Mike Libby at the Insect Lab makes these fabulously strange half animal, half machine creations by combining real insects with watch parts.

Like much to be found on the web – weird but compelling.

Thanks to Cliff Pickover’s Reality Carnival for finding this one

Tube map fun

May 28, 2007

Thanks to Strange Maps for the link to Animals on the Underground website.

Having once lived in London for the better part of two decades and having stared at the tube map for many a tedious hour waiting for a train, I am sorry that I didn’t see the animals in the map that others have spotted. I could have been less bored.

No doubt this could be done with transport maps from other places as well, though I will leave it to more artistic folk than me to actually find the pictures in the maps. It needs a schematic map like London’s to work. I have looked at the New York subway map and can’t see how you could make pictures with it. Tokyo’s would work if not for the writing over the nodes. Paris looks like a winner too

Are they comfortable?

May 24, 2007

As we are presently looking for new furniture, I am more attuned than usual to the range of furniture that is available. Pity we don’t live in Blackpool, Lancashire. We could buy our new chairs at Febland. Here are a few examples of their wares.

Yes they are all chairs!

Addendum: I couldn’t resist adding these beanbags for mobile phones.

Art and science

May 24, 2007

Now I’m feeling giddy. I’ve just been looking at the finalists in the Best Visual Illusion of the Year finalists. The winner is an extraordinarily simple illusion.

For an explanation of why the tower on the right appears to lean more than the identical one on the left see the relevant page on the Best Illusion website. There are many other fascinating illusions on the site, each with an explanation of how they work. Ah. Art and Science in perfect harmony.

By the way, don’t be tempted to delve further into the Neural Correlate Society unless you understand phrases like “the thalamocortical microcircuits generate all the different receptive field structures”!

Private wealth

May 23, 2007

Reuters is reporting that a Hong Kong businessman Joseph Lau has ordered a private 787 airliner from Boeing, retailing at US$153 million. Useful if you want to fly 200 of your friends around the world, but still a lot of money for a private jet. Or so it seemed until I did the maths. Lau is reputedly worth about US$2 billion, which means that his new vehicle is costing him about 7% of his total worth. That is probably about equivalent to the average homeowner in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne buying a small BMW.

Mind you, affording something does not make owning it necessarily right. I don’t suppose Lau or any of the other 7 purchasers of the so-called 747-VIPs are concerned about carbon footprints, diminishing oil resources, dangerously crowded air-corridors, or any other anti-social aspects of owning a huge private jet. Maybe I am doing these multi-millionaires a disservice, maybe not. I note that Joseph Lau has given a generous scholarship to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology aimed at encouraging “the study of foreign language and personal development through community services”, though the price he paid for Andy Warhol’s painting of Mao is 5 times as much as the establishment cost of the scholarship and he is quoted as saying ā€œIā€™m so happy! Just think. I could have wasted all that money on charity or helping the poor.ā€ Who knows? Private wealth is just that – private.

History in Maps

May 21, 2007

One of my favorite stop-off points on my cyberslacking journey is the wonderful collection of maps at Strange Maps. Not so much strange as fascinating. In most instances, the maps and the commentary that accompanies them tell a fascinating story – often about minor historical or territorial curios. I did not know about the enclaves of Indians and Bangladeshis in each other’s respective countries, or of the Limburg Split of 1839.

A new discovery for me is The Map House, a specialist London map dealer. From the so called ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ section of their website comes the moving, mapped story of part of Mawson’s Antarctic exploration. The map charts the unfortunate death of two of his party and his own near-death experience in a crevasse. There is much drama in this simple map.

Incidentally, the Hollow Earth map (which comes via Strange Maps) is from one of the odder websites in the cybersphere. 2012 Unlimited seems to be for advice on coping with the changes that are taking place to the Earth. Not global warming as you might expect but something to do a divine plan connected with the start of the Mayan 6th world and the secretive Shadow Government which apparently controls all the world’s governments. There is also information about low-voltage electric treatment for AIDS, but I haven’t established a connection to the Mayans yet! I was inspired to use that particular map by a wonderful photograph from above the South Pole which appears on Barista today and which clearly shows a hole through the centre of the Earth.