bioephemera

Archives for February, 2009

Yup, that’s a flying bat gripping a lamp in its mouth, with his buddy, a coiled snake, crawling along above him. And it’s not a faux-Victorian, nouveau-Goth creation – it’s a replica of an actual late 1800s fixture, by eclectic lighting company Rejuvenation. Seriously – over a hundred years ago, someone thought this was the…

It wasn’t that long ago that Otto the octopus was bent on destroying the electrical system in his German aquarium. Now a cephalopod at the Santa Monica aquarium is following in his footsteps, flooding the building overnight with a few hundred gallons of seawater: The suspected cephalopod weighs about a pound. Its head is about…

The Cheerful Cricket and Others (1907) Children’s Digital Library The Children’s Digital Library doesn’t have a sleek interface and it can be a bit hiccupy, but if you poke around you’ll find a surprising number of vintage children’s books like The Cheerful Cricket and Others (1907) or The Illustrated Alphabet of Birds (1851). Best of…

As a native of Washington State, where we could literally scoop white ash off the ground in handfuls after Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980, I have one thing to say about Bobby Jindal’s totally disingenuous dig at “volcano monitoring”: if geoscience is such a big waste of money, sure, let’s stop monitoring volcanoes –…

Update on the burgeoning Jane Austen massacre genre: you knew Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was coming out and generating unforeseen (at least by its publisher) interweb buzz. Subsequently we learned the book is to be followed by a movie produced by Sir Elton John, the amply titled Pride and Predator. Now Entertainment Weekly interviews…

My friend Nicole sent me this WSJ article about a month ago – it’s about the sad reality that artworks made with nonarchival materials often don’t outlive the artist: Art is sold “as is” by galleries or directly from artists. (Can you imagine Consumer Reports reviewing art?) Still, dealers hope to maintain the goodwill of…

The Shakespeare Insult meme takes a portable turn with the Shakespeare Insulter for iPhone. This app is supposedly “official” (who says?) but strangely, it features an American voice, which issues from the nutcracker-jawed head of the Bard like that of a self-important postmodernist literary scholar who is unaware of his tendency toward melodrama. “Thou” becomes…

“On Divination by Birds” I don’t need that black wind of crows kicking up from flax to tell heavy weather coming, white days to drop barricades across the interstate, against two hundred miles of trackless white. (The crows so obvious then against the miles of trackless white!) More tricky the magpies flicker and croak at…

Weekend Essay Links

Essays are like cupcakes: they’re tasty, abundant, idiosyncratic, and small enough to finish without feeling you’ve overindulged – which leaves you vulnerable to the self-deception that just one more is a good idea. So here are some weekend reading suggestions for a lazy Sunday. –At SEED, Carl Zimmer’s love letter to natural history museums as…

Wind it up

Smartcars are cute. But when you add a turning windup key, they’re so cute it’s almost wrong. I saw this specimen in a flotilla of Smartcars in Alexandria president’s day parade last week – the custom license plate says “wnd itup”. Nice.