Some links: 89

Awesome!

What Will Art Look Like in the Metaverse?, by Dean Kissick.

In late-19th and early-20th century Paris, Rousseau and his contemporaries (Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso, etc.) were busy inventing bohemian modernity, creating new ways of living and of seeing the world. In our century, that visionary role appears to have passed from the artists to the engineers, to Zuckerberg and his ilk. Who else tries to invent new universes? Who dares spin grand utopian fantasies? Artists don’t anymore. It’s Silicon Valley’s Promethean founders who try — and routinely fall short.

Some assembly required

A Fairfax Master Naturalists project that I could work from my desk: I cleaned up the automated transcription of a video presentation on climate change, presented by Rachel Licker to Master Naturalists in 2014. Dr. Licker speaks softly, and the AI performing the transcription often made a hash of things. My favorite machine blunder was pursue potations for precipitation, followed closely by 4 percent the patients for for precipitation.

Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival 2020: 3

departingA couple of snaps from the road. I rode the Auto Train south to Florida and drove my car back, swinging wide to Charlotte to visit a colleague for dinner. As an added bonus, I got to ride Charlotte’s LYNX Blue Line in to Uptown for dinner.

MOTELBack in Titusville, I circled back to get a shot of this lovely MOTEL sign, calling out for Wade’s Motor Inn on Washington Ave. The M and the L have lost a few lights from their enclosing diamonds, but it’s still a cool sign.

Two ounces

High tech-low tech-biotech: Fitting albatrosses with radar detectors to catch stealth fishermen.

Albatrosses are ideal sentinels of the open ocean, said Henri Weimerskirch, a marine ecologist at a French National Center for Scientific Research in Chizé, France, and the lead author of the new study published on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “They are large birds, they travel over huge distances and they are very attracted by fishing vessels.”

Some links: 86

  • Converting 35% of the acreage of a coffee farm to shade-grown culture can maximize revenue, according to new research by Amanda Rodewald et al. and summarized by Gustave Axelson. Depending on the premium paid for shade-grown coffee, that percentage can go as high as 85%.
  • A smartphone attachment can test for the presence of norovirus in a drinking water sample and produce results in five minutes. The promising prototype comes from the biomedical engineering lab of Jeong-Yeol Yoon. Joe Palca reports.

    In the wake of hurricanes and other storms, flooding can cause sewage systems to overflow, potentially mixing with water intended for drinking. Municipal water system managers would breathe easier if they could be certain they didn’t have to worry at all about norovirus contamination.

  • How to cross a river. The water at Huntley Meadows Park is never this fast or cold.
  • Melissa Errico submits a “self-tape” audition.

Across the Mid-Atlantic Ridge: 3

Technology Report

dispenser 1Our first night on the road out from Reykjavík, I encountered this perplexing soap/shampoo dispenser with no visible affordances. Nothing to click or push.

dispenser 2I figured out that the one latchy thing on the bottom released it from its holder.

dispenser 3It still took a couple of minutes for it to dawn on me that you’re supposed to squeeze the entire container to get the gel to come out.


polisher toppolisher frontI saw shoe polishers in a couple of places, but nothing so vintage as this example in the Hotel Holt.


crampons 2crampons 1Crampons let you climb the the glacier. They strap on to your hiking boots with this intricate five-step process that our guide “S” explained.

crampons 3And they work! Here we are after a climb of 200m up Sólheimajökull.


GravelinesSigns in Reyðarfjörður honor French fisherfolk who once worked these waters.


white on bluedecaying white on redBack in Reykjavík, I found a couple of old-school building-mounted street name signs.

standardBut what I mostly saw were these no-nonsense, very legible signs. Out in the country, signs at crossroads (no pic) are rather low-slung. They wouldn’t look out of place next to an airport runway.


yellowLighthouses in Reykjavík are rather pedestrian, alas.

Drop by drop

Joe Palca and Susie Neilson report on a phone-sized device that can test for cholera in 30 minutes. It’s the work of Katherine Clayton and colleagues at Purdue University.

Still early days; more field tests are planned.

[Clayton] knows making a cholera test doesn’t put her on a fast track for financial success.

Instead, she says, her background in engineering has made her feel a sense of obligation to help find solutions to global problems: “That’s what I enjoy — knowing what the future could look like.”

Saint Louis art & tech crawl

I attended the Strange Loop conference in St. Louis this past week. I got a little time to have a look at the city, which I haven’t seen since I visited my departed friend Jim Wilson in University City many years ago. Ted Drewes is still there, although you can buy a concrete from a vending machine in the airport now.

faded oneI found another fallout shelter sign, this one exposed to the weather and badly faded.

texture and shinelined upRichard Serra’s quadrilateral Twain is not in great condition, and the landscaping around it is a bit lumpy and wild (perhaps by design?), but this iridescence caught my eye. And the framing of the courts building across the street is too perfect to have happened by chance.

fancy topcotta cottaI was sitting in the hotel, eating my breakfast, idly looking out the window, and I spotted a rather fancy looking building a few blocks away. “Let’s take a closer look,” I thought. “That looks interesting.” Oh, yeah. It’s the Wainwright Building.

car 4007I spent a little time birding for the Saint Louis specialty, unsuccessfully, alas. But I did add a light rail system to my list.

double archI found the arch, too! This pair of barrel-vaulted tunnels had been abandoned, but were repurposed by MetroLink. This is the south end of the 8th and Pine station.