May 9, 2009

I sing the body electric

"Physiology" by Earnie and Helga Kollar from the textbook Biology Today (1972)
More images from Biology Today at A Journey Round My Skull

May 8, 2009

Teach me, Robot

Via Pink Tentacle:

Upon returning to class after the Golden Week holidays, students at a Tokyo elementary school were delighted to find their teacher had been replaced by a robot. The talking humanoid, named “Saya,” was originally developed as a receptionist robot in 2004 by professor Hiroshi Kobayashi of the Tokyo University of Science, but has recently begun taking on work as a substitute teacher.

More about Saya-sensei at Pink Tentacle

May 7, 2009

Virgil Finlay illustrations

Our friend Mr. Door Tree, at Golden Age Comic Book Stories has some great Virgil Finlay illustrations concerning space travel.

Labels Losing Money With iTunes Variable Pricing

Right before Apple finally implemented variable pricing in iTunes it wasn't hard for many to predict that it would backfire badly on the major record labels as they tried to jack up prices. So, it should come as little surprise to find out those predictions appear to be entirely accurate. New reports say that the major record labels are losing revenue from variable pricing. Unit sales are dropping to the point that revenue is less as well. That's just bad business no matter how you look at it -- and totally preventable if they knew their own business. Plenty of people made it clear that sales would drop with higher prices, and it's amazing that the execs were unable to accurately predict how much.

Sometimes when we question the motives of entertainment industry execs, people say that we're being unfair in questioning the "intelligence" behind those moves. We're told over and over again that industry execs are much smarter than we are, and they know better than we do. And yet, almost everything that has been predicted has come true... over and over again. The industry keeps doing things that at least make it appear that it has trouble understanding the long-term implications of almost every move it makes. Perhaps they are smart. And perhaps it's all part of some grand plan. But, to date, the only evidence we've seen is that nearly every move made by the industry has backfired, and resulted in less revenue coming in, while those who predicted alternative and embraced alternative business models are finding tremendous success. At what point do we stop assuming that the legacy industry execs "are smarter" and recognize that they seem too focused on the old way of doing business to recognize how to competently change course?


May 6, 2009

Shine, Perishing Republic

While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening
to empire
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the
mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots
to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence;
and home to the mother.
You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly
long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains:
shine, perishing republic.
But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening
center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there
are left the mountains.
And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant,
insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught – they say –
God, when he walked on earth.

Robinson Jeffers, 1925
Tor House