A perfect October day. Well, one of them. There are two kinds. Bright sun pouring through the golden leaves, residual warmth, a bit of a breeze poking around the leaves to make a bony rustle in the gutters. And then there’s today: gloomy, damp, enough leaves on the branches to make you think Fall still has some cards to play, but enough bare limbs to remind you that Halloween is nigh. It rained. That’s the best news. Not enough, but we’ll take it. So then:


SCIENCE! The science blog “It’s Okay To Be Smart” asks a good question: Did you know that the cover of Unknown Pleasures is the readout of the first observed pulsar, a rapidly rotating and electromagnetic star?

Uhhh... yeah? We all did. I remember standing around the counter at Music City down on Hennepin in ’79, arguing whether it was a pulsar or a quasar, and Bill - he was the older guy who used to roadie for Heep before he threw out his back; one of those self-taught guys who knew a little about everything -  said there was something about the waveform that looked a bit off. Not a quasar; it wouldn’t have that particular spike on the fourteeth line. Possibly a black hole, he said - you’d get that spike if a massive object was rotating around the black hole at superfast speeds.

”But wouldn’t it be pulled into the black hole’s gravitational well?” I said. “Not necessarily,” Bill said, pausing to put the new album from Magazine on the turntable. “If modern theories are correct, it could be a massive black hole itself, and the two would revolve in tandem for millions of years before fusing. You'd get the same regular signal." I said I didn't think so. Surely gravitational lensing would distort it.

Bill just gave me that look. Please. We're talking radiation here, not light.

We chewed that one over for a while, trying to figure out why the picture was used to illustrate the cover of a band that took its name from a Nazi prostitute squad. Ah, it just seems like yesterday.

Actually, no. Made it all up. More here. Really, it's a pulsar.




Duck Diaper? Or Goose Snugli? They’re for sale here.


URBAN STUDIES Something I learned stumbling around the web this morning: there’s a town in India devoted entirely to “realizing human unity.” That’s the main industry. Unity-realizing. It’s called Auroville. Its charter says:

Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in Auroville, one must be the willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.

Annnnd there’s probably someone on hand responsible for communicating the Divine Consciousness’ wishes to mere mortals. Just so there isn’t any confusion about whether you’re supposed to drink the Kool-Aid.

Some panoramas are here, if you’re curious what Utopia looks like. Me, I prefer to live in a town that has "restaurants," not a "Cafeteria."



ART The cliched praise for a good actor: you’d pay to watch him read the phone book. The new definition, perhaps, is “That actor is so compelling I’d watch him make tea in slow-motion for seven minutes.



Or is it the equivalent of watching paint dry? I have a short attention span, so any sort of arty clip that stretches beyond three minutes feels like eternity, but I watched this all the way to the end. What he does around the halfway mark is . . . unnerving. Simple and ordinary, when slowed down like that, can become very unnerving. Rickman had ten seconds to come up with a character and a mood, and man, does he come up with both. (via Open Culture.)

Says the artist:

Each scene-sequence of drama was crafted to provide a physical metaphor for an emotional condition. This was created through various means—determinants (the problem, plot, theme, or context of the characters and their circumstances), consequences (deliberate manifestations of feeling as gestures and expressions), moods (induced in the character and filling the scene), and involuntary emotions (internal emotional states).

The work was presented at Lincoln Center as part of the 2011 Lincoln Center Festival, utilizing the façade of the David H. Koch Theater as a media canvas, transforming the plaza into an outdoor museum and the building into a work of art.

The music is credited as “The Heist” from “Inception.” Since the YouTube page doesn’t bother with a composer, let me help: that’s Hans Zimmer. Trademark stuff: the blaring chords of doom, the percussive beat running underfoot. It’s not the same as his Batman soundtrack, but it’s the same style.

For all we know, the music used in the Rickman piece is actually “Tea for Two” slowed down 600 times. Wouldn’t be a first.



(Via A/V Club.)