This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Lucubrations about Chemistry Sets

Posted by: James Lileks under Technology Updated: October 9, 2013 - 12:35 PM

We'll get to that in a moment. First: A bright new day dawns at Pixar.

And now they’ve shut it down. (Via Cartoon Brew, which wonders how long the video will stay up.)

TOYS Wired, realizing the power of the fully-operational LIST, has “32 of the Most Popular Toys from the Last 145 years.” You may feel as if you’ll learn something from such a story, and indeed you might - but consider the arbitrary criteria. Thirty-two? Not 33? The last 145 years? Why stop there? For that matter, you may decide to regard the entire enterprise with suspicion:

Brown left certain toys out of the series for aesthetic reasons—ride on toys like Big Wheels were too large and disrupted the aesthetic cohesion, while others like chemistry sets would have been too expensive for most children to have access to, making them poor symbols of the era.

Never trust any list that leaves out something because it disrupts the aesthetic cohesion. “Well, we would have included Nazi art in a survey of 20th century propaganda, but it’s really not very well done.” Even though some chemistry sets may have been expensive, it wasn’t prohibitively so - the 350-experiment set was $4.99 in 1962, or $35.00 today. More important, though, was how many kids wanted one, and how the very existence of the Chemistry Set was a marker of aspirations and interests.

(The "$4.99" link, BTW, goes to a Flickr set of an entire Sears catalog from 1962. Hail the internet.

VIDEO The Australian newspaper does not pull punches: “If found guilty, Chadi Jomaa should be considered the world's stupidest arsonist.” CCTV cameras caught him pouring gas around his grocery store, which declined to explode on his schedule, preferring instead to explode on his head. (Go HERE if the video doesn't display; Liveleak embed codes are wonky things these days.)

MOVIES I’m torn. “Prometheus” did not speak well to Ridley’s aptitude with sequels to venerated properties. From Blastr:

Forget Indiana Jones and Han Solo — it sounds like Harrison Ford’s other iconic sci-fi role might also be coming out of retirement.

After Prometheus, Ridley Scott got on a sequel kick, and we’ve been hearing for a while now that he was tinkering with a followup to his legendary classic Blade Runner. Well, apparently he’s also been talking to former Replicant-hunter Ford about the gig.

Ford opened up to IGN about the project and revealed he’s been meeting with Scott about the movie, specifically his potential involvement. He also drops the bombshell that he’d be “happy” to work with Scott again to bring the world of Blade Runner back to life. Yes, please.

Replicants can’t age, can they? So if he looks like Harrison Ford, doesn’t that mean he’s not a replicant?

HOW INDEED If you’ve given any thought to Isaac Newton lately, no doubt this has struck you as a puzzler:

The life of Isaac Newton falls into two halves, and the main problem for Newton studies is how to fit them together. In the first half he was a sulky Cambridge mathematician who, at the age of 44, astonished the world with a work of natural science that was soon recognised as one of the greatest books ever written. In the second he was a sleek London gentleman wallowing in power, wealth and prestige and devoting his intellectual energy to esoteric studies of the Bible. How could they be the same person?

I don’t know; perhaps wealth allowed him to be the person he always was, except in a more conspicuous fashion? Well, I should read on before I make snap judgments.

Newton’s first biographer, Jean-Baptiste Biot, proposed the classic solution in 1822: Newton was ‘the greatest of mankind in science’, Biot said, until the midpoint of his life, when he suffered a ‘fatal aberration of his intellect’, started dabbling in theology, and ‘ceased to think of science’. That was how the matter was left until 1936, when a stash of Newton’s papers turned up at a London auction house, providing clear evidence that the great scientist had been a fanatical biblicist all along.

Ah hah. Interesting article, complete with an appearance by Maynard Keynes of all people, and you will encounter the word “lucubrations.” It means “pedantic or overly elaborate writings.” It’s from a Latin word that means “working by lamplight,” implying someone who stays up late on something past the point when you ought to give it up and go to bed. “Burning the midnight oil,” I suppose.

The noun form is “Lucubrator.” I hope you have no cause to use it today.

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT