Images

Life Magazine’s gallery of thirty dumb inventions is so funny my instinct would be to repost every single photo here. I settled for Goodyear’s illuminated tires (1961), which I am in fact amazed didn’t catch on — I’m sure many people would love to pimp their rides with those. It’s interesting to note two inventor heroes of mine — Hugo Gernsback (the first television broadcaster and sci-fi pioneer) and Clive Sinclair (of the ZX Spectrum fame) — are present in this infamous list, as apparently both had some kind of miniature TV fetish in the 1960s (still, I wish to know in which way is cellphone television smarter than Sinclair’s miniature television set).

And another thing: what’s the story with all those smoking accessories? A tiny umbrellla for cigarettes? Serial cigarette apparatuses? Come on!

A sign of the times: It had been over a year since the last time I used film. So yesterday I loaded some Fuji 400 I had in the fridge into my old EM (it has a shutter that sounds and feels like a heavy slap in the face, but alas, my favourite camera — the Electro — took a nasty blow to the lens and is stuck on infinity). I went to the street and got to do what I seem to do best (because I’m a coward who doesn’t photograph people): silly planimetric street typologies.

Over at Boing Boing there’s an interesting post about how most people prefer cars with ‘angry faces’. This is, in fact, something that has bothered me for a while. Even though some people, such as your humble narrator, just drive some car (meaning: it was given to me so I hadn’t much of a choice), I think more often than not a car’s design offers a pretty good image of the person driving it. There is, for instance, a pretty interesting essay by Nick Perry on his book Hyperreality and Global Culture on why the BMW 635CSi is evil.

From an European standpoint, Audi and Seat are the main offenders in exploiting the ‘evil look’, and I’d say three-quarters of the time some bastard is pushing close behind me in the motorway, he’s driving one of those. Those cars may have the airbags and the intelligent braking systems, but are actually designed for unsafe driving. Remember the Honda CRX? One really good machine — shame that the place to see one is the junkyard, and it’ll be severely beaten.

Of course, there are also the ‘sensible’ Toyotas and whatnot whose drivers will cut you off only to drive very slowly — the single road event that makes me step out of the car in the next light and beat the guy who did it with a large stick — so unsafe driving is obviously not something only people with angry-eyed cars do. But as they probably say, the headlights offer a look inside the driver’s soul…

This xkcd is again right on the money. The file copy dialogs are high on the list of things I find irrational in Windows — and again, I think Vista only made it worse.

The recent episode in which Amazon un-sold 1984 (of all possible books!) from their costumer’s Kindle e-book readers is a fine example of how to get your company quickly on my (and I hope others’) boycott list. It’s insane beyond compreension. At Boing Boing Gadgets, they speculate this sets a precedent for instant book bans at any government’s request. Not nice.

I was eagerly awaiting for the Kindle to be released in this part of Europe. Now, I’m as eager for it’s launch as for a kick in the groin. Turns out that the Kindle, like the iPhone, is a pretty looking but piece-of-shit device in which the seller left a backdoor that allows them to remotely delete your stuff. Imagine your real estate agency having a key to steal you home’s furniture. Fuck that. Now I’m eagerly awaiting the ugly Taiwanese clone that reads thousands of file formats off SD cards and couldn’t care less about what you’re reading.

Even though it was unarguably impressive to get people to fly to the moon — and back!, the feat of space exploration that impresses me most is the Soviets getting the Venera spacecrafts to land in fucking Venus and transmit pictures just before being destroyed by the intense heat and pressure (Venus, despite being home to heavenly-named locations such as Aphrodite Terra, is actually one very real Hell).

Almost as cool, in 2001 NASA got the NEAR Shoemaker probe to land on the asteroid 433 Eros, a manouver that wasn’t even in the flightplan. Crazy.